1:36 PM EST, December 6, 2012
Six months ago, as a debate raged over disruptive noise from Merriweather Post Pavilion, we suggested that while the noise might be unpleasant to some neighbors, it should not have been unexpected and was, in fact, the price you pay for buying a home near an outdoor concert venue.
These days, a new debate has emerged over another occasionally noisy outdoor venue in Columbia: the ball fields at the new Blandair Park, opened earlier this year. As an article in last week's newspaper explained, neighbors in Oakland Mills say the noise from games on Blandair's turf fields is unbearable on weekends, lasting from early morning into the night. They also complained about the lights from the fields and the traffic from park visitors.
These are concerns that must be addressed. Unlike Merriweather, Blandair did not exist when residents of Oakland Mills, some just a long touchdown pass away, bought their homes. These disruptions, in other words, could not have been foreseen.
Last week, the dissatisfied neighbors met with county parks department leaders to air their grievances. In true Howard County fashion, county leaders, including parks department Director John Byrd and County Council member Calvin Ball, whose district includes Blandair, expressed sympathy and a desire to address the complaints.
Obvious solutions are available: Redirect the sound system or turn it off or down, especially at night. Limit the hours the fields are used on weekends. Re-engineer roads to alleviate traffic. There are other modifications as well, and we have confidence the county will be willing and able to identify and implement them.
Blandair Park is a wonderful new amenity in the middle of Columbia and will be for years to come. But nearby residents affected by this park deserve their peace and quiet.