Apr 18, 2022 - News

Des Moines considers Lauridsen Amphitheater noise ordinance

A photo of a concert.

The Des Moines Symphony played a free concert for more than 9,000 people at the Lauridsen Amphitheater in September. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Des Moines City Council is considering a noise control ordinance today that would require some Lauridsen Amphitheater concerts to end by 9pm.

Why it matters: Some nearby residents have complained about noise.

  • Yes, but: Music supporters have warned that over-regulating sound in the space could stifle its community benefit.

Catch up fast: The $13 million amphitheater at Water Works Park was completed in 2019 and can hold as many as 25,000 people.

State of play: Lauridsen is growing in popularity, particularly as downtown's Simon Estes Amphitheater remains closed for flood mitigation work.

  • Plus: A tunnel connecting Water Works and Gray's Lake parks has led to higher usage of the Lauridsen site.

But residents north of Interstate 235 — about two miles away — have complained about noise coming from Lauridsen Amphitheater concerts, Councilman Josh Mandelbaum said during a December council meeting.

  • The council directed city staff to devise a plan to address the noise late last year.

Details: The city's noise ordinance proposal would apply to Lauridsen concerts year-round, except for those held from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The aim is to limit disturbances during the school year, according to a proposal synopsis.

  • Amplified sound would end by 9pm Sunday-Thursdays and 10pm on Friday and Saturdays.

What they're saying: The Water Works Park Foundation worked with city leaders to limit noise in 2019, ending most weekday concerts by 10pm and 11pm on weekends, Sam Carrell, the group's director, told Axios in January.

  • Last summer's concerts totaled about 20 hours of live music, which "doesn't seem like a high price to pay if you want to have a city that retains and attracts a young workforce," Carrell said.
  • City leaders are trying to strike a balance between urban life and entertainment, Mandelbaum told Axios. More tweaks to the proposal may be necessary, he added.

What's ahead: City leaders will consider two noise-related proposals at City Hall Monday.

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