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Noisy concert foe arrested

As the band played on, a Coupeville man was arrested Sunday for making too much noise with his lawn mower.

For years residents of the historic town on Penn Cove have enjoyed weekly summer concerts at the pavilion in Town Park. But in addition to the sounds of music, patrons have been hearing neighbor Ed Spromberg express his disapproval for the event by revving his riding lawnmower. Last year, Spromberg was cited for disorderly conduct when he revved his riding lawn mower in an apparent attempt to drown out a performance of the 133rd Army National Guard Band.

When he tried the same tactic this year when the North Cascades Concert Band played Sunday afternoon, Coupeville police arrested him on charges of disorderly conduct and violating the town’s noise ordinance.

“He came and started up his lawn mower to disrupt the concert,” alleged Coupeville Town Marshal Lenny Marlborough. The penalty for each crime can range up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Spromberg heads to District Court on Aug. 12 to answer the disorderly conduct charge and to Municipal Court August 27 to respond to the allegation of violating the noise ordinance.

Spromberg would not comment on the charges and referred any questions to his attorney, Charles Arndt, who works out of Coupeville. Despite repeated attempts at contact, Arndt couldn’t be reached for comment.

The charges filed against Spromberg last year have yet to be entirely resolved. The disorderly conduct charge was dismissed because Concerts on the Cove didn’t file the proper paperwork. The noise ordinance violation charge is still pending, Marlborough said.

Spromberg’s arrest Sunday is the latest round of a years-long fight over the concert series and the noise levels it produces.

“For the past eight years we’ve been dealing with the same issue,” Marlborough said.

Spromberg has been an opponent of Concerts on the Cove since the 1992 construction of the pavilion. According to previously published reports in the News-Times, Spromberg referred to it as a “monstrosity” and “one of the worst white elephants imposed on the town of Coupeville.”

The town’s noise ordinance limits sound levels to 55 decibels, but there is an 85-decibel exception for concerts.

Marlborough said the town regularly monitors the decibel levels of the concerts. When the One World Taiko Japanese Drums performed late last month, organizers were given a written warning when sound levels spiked above 85 decibels.

“We tried everything we could do to get under the decibel level ... but we couldn’t stay under the required ordinance,” said Bill Carboneau, Concert’s on the Cove board member.

He added that the drum performance was the concert’s first violation of the sound ordinance in the history of the concert series .

Concert officials work closely with the band directors to ensure sound levels stay at the legal level.

“We ran the potential of getting fined if we exceeded it,” Carboneau said. It’s not always easy, however. Noise such as the audience clapping can register higher than 70 decibels.

As for the situation with Spromberg, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be an amicable resolution.

“For the last serval years, we don’t make any direct contact with him and he doesn’t have any direct contact with us,” Carboneau said.

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