by Rick Armon

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

September 19, 2002

All you Rochester residents, quiet down! You’re being too noisy.

Noise Free America has awarded Rochester the group’s “Noisy Dozen” award for September, citing city officials’ “dismal failure” to address the problem of loud car stereos.

“Rochester has a significant noise problem,” said Ted Rueter, founder of Noise Free America and a political science professor at Tulane University in New Orleans. “There are lots of people in Rochester complaining and we tried to spotlight the fact that boom cars are out of control in Rochester.”

Other cities that have received the award include West Hollywood, Calif., Norman, Okla., Lincoln, Neb., and Richmond, Va. Cleveland will receive next month’s award, Rueter said.

James Kaufmann, 35, founder of the newly formed Rochester Soundscape Society, nominated the city for the award. Kaufmann is a pianist who lives in the 19th Ward and works at the State University College at Brockport.

“The interesting thing about Rochester is that it would appear that we are trying to do something about (noise pollution), but if you actually listen, it doesn’t sound like it,” Kaufmann said.

Last year, city police announced they would ticket drivers and tow vehicles, even for a first offense, if car stereos were too loud.

Kaufmann said there has been a lack of enforcement. He admitted that murders and other violent crime take priority, but added that “we have to look at noise as another crime.”

Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. said city officials are trying to address the problem.

“This is a very difficult problem to enforce,” he said. “This problem has not risen to the level of burglary, murders, drug enforcement,” he added.

Johnson also said the problem isn’t any worse in Rochester than any other big city.

The Rochester Soundscape Society meets every other Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Berean Cafe, 2203 Clifford Ave.

The next meeting is Oct. 1.

“The goal of the group is to try to improve the soundscape in Rochester by reducing noise where possible,” he said.

“Having access to quiet is one of (life’s) most important things.”

For more details about the Rochester Soundscape Society, call Kaufmann at (585) 467-6273.