By now, those living along the perimeter of Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill have probably come to accept late-night noise as a fact of life. After all, the park is two blocks from the bar-filled Pike/Pine area, the hangout of Seattle's most rollicking hipsters. What they haven't gotten used to, some neighbors say, is the loud drumming emanating from the park.
According to an elderly couple living adjacent to the park, strange noises, including those produced by drums, have been an issue since the park was renovated in 2006.
According to records compiled by the Seattle Police Department (and used, in part, as justification for placing four surveillance cameras around the park), Cal Anderson Park was the source of 514 calls to SPD for "premises checks" in 2007, and 40 public-disturbance calls. The report gives no indication of how many of the disturbances were drum related.
One woman who lives a block away from the park said she'd heard about the noise, but recommended I talk to neighbors living on the park's opposite side. "Go talk to the carpenter," she said. "He hears everything."
"The carpenter" is Mitch Allen, whose work-in-progress home faces the playground portion of the park. He said noise always keeps him up, but that drumming hasn't been an issue in the last year or so. That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when two drummers and a dance crew showed up on a Sunday morning.
Allen said the two drummers were "of African descent" and that their drumming skills were "great." Allen's wife, who he says "doesn't know the difference between music and noise," wasn't so receptive. "We walked over there, but it bothered my wife so much she had tears in her eyes."
Royal Alley-Barnes, a parks department manager who has spoken with Allen about the drumming issue, said the department comes across groups of drummers at Cal Anderson Park fairly frequently during park checks, which gives them the chance to respond to complaints. Most of these grievances, Alley-Barnes said, are rooted in "people's tolerance and preference for different types of sound."
Alley-Barnes and parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter said they would remind the drummers to be more respectful, even if their drumming takes place during park hours. "We just tell people that we have to be considerate," Alley-Barnes said. "It's an education thing."