NDNU multi-use field draws excess noise complaints 

A new lacrosse field at Notre Dame de Namur University has sparked a competition of another type — between neighbors’ right to a peaceful atmosphere and the school’s need to provide athletics for students.

Since Notre Dame de Namur University finished its $1 million athletic field renovation, Risa Horowitz — who lives across Ralston Avenue from the field — says her house has been inundated with the grunts, whistles and cheers of the school’s more than 100 soccer and lacrosse players, which may violate the field’s use permit and the city’s noise ordinance.

Last September, the school replaced the grass on the field with artificial turf, and along the way they removed a grove of aging eucalyptus trees that protected residents from excess noise.

At the city’s request, the university is holding a community meeting on April 4 to discuss the impacts of the new field, which opened at the beginning of the year.

"Whatever it is, we just want to get it all down next week and move from there to find solutions," Community Development Director Carlos deMelo said. "Heads are going to butt, and the city is the referee."

The university has built a 6-foot-tall dirt "berm" barrier between the field and Ralston Avenue, but Horowitz says it hasn’t helped the situation. University spokesman Richard Rossi said the school also plans to plant coast redwood trees along the berm to replace the old grove.

"The trees will provide a natural sound barrier, but it will take a number of years for them to mature," deMelo said.

The university also began testing different types of whistles to reduce the noise level, and spectators at NDNU sporting events are asked to avoid using airhorns or bullhorns.

"As an institution, we want to be sure that we’re doing all we can to be a good neighbor," Rossi said. "But we are a university, and we do have an obligation to our students to provide this kind of facility."

Mayor Coralin Feierbach — who spearheaded last year’s noise ordinance push — said tests with the city’s new decibel meters have been inconclusive, but she has heard the whistles from Horowitz’s home, and agrees that a "happy medium" needs to be found.

A number of other neighborhood residents have complained about the noise, Feierbach and deMelo confirmed.

The April 4 meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Taube Conference Center at the entrance to the university, at 1500 Ralston Ave.


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