Neighbor says videos reveal racing's harmful decibel levels

Monday, January 17, 2011 at 11:30am

A neighbor pushing for the demise of racing at the 117-acre fairgrounds property on Monday emailed videos to Metro Council members that he claims capture the decibel level of high-speed automobiles racing near his Wedgewood-Houston house.

Colby Sledge, chair of the group South Nashville Action People and a resident of Moore Avenue, said one of the videos, filmed in 2005 on nearby Byrum Avenue, shows noise reaching 86 decibels. Another, filmed at 11 p.m. on the same street, shows noise reaching 88 decibels, he added.

“You will note that the noise readings were being taken behind trees, with a neighbor noting that she will have to take down her privacy fence and build a bigger fence to see if it will make a difference,” Sledge wrote.

Sledge’s unveiling of the decibel-level videos comes on the eve of the council’s consideration on the second of three votes a bill that would call for the demolition of the racetrack. Sledge supports the ordinance.

However, two of the bill’s sponsors, council members Megan Barry and Sandra Moore, told The City Paper last week they plan to move forward with amendments to the bill that, if approved, would take the language “demolition” out of the ordinance. Instead, under the proposed amendments, a new master plan would dictate the future of the racetrack. (It’s worth noting that the new master plan would be based on several studies that have already recommended racing vacate the fairgrounds.)

Amendments will be taken up at the council’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday.

“The prolonged exposure of neighbors to such noise can result in permanent hearing damage, including hearing loss,” Sledge wrote in the email, citing research from the Children’s Hearing Institute.

“This is more than just a neighborhood nuisance; this is a health issue,” he continued. “For five years after this video was taken, the neighbors around the racetrack have been exposed to dangerously high levels of noise. When taking action Tuesday night, please consider the impact your decision will have on the health of Nashvillians.”

Darden Copeland, who heads Save My Fairgrounds, a group trying to save the racetrack, said he called Sledge prior to his organization’s unveiling last week a new racetrack proposal that would renovate the property and privatize operations. Copeland said he had hoped the two could discuss a possible sound study, noise abatement plans and stricter policies on mufflers.

“He has yet to call me back and does not seem interested in learning more about our sound abatement plans and strict policies on mufflers,” Copeland said.

“We propose a true decibel reading be measured for the entire surrounding area, conducted by a certified sound engineer, using proper methodology,” he said. “From that baseline study, we will work with our engineers to ensure we use best management practices to reduce the sound coming from the track for the neighbors. We will not comment on last-minute, individual [decibel] readings using a $29.99 decibel meter and posted by someone with an obvious agenda of shutting down the track.”

28 Comments on this post:

By: karlwithak on 1/17/11 at 11:35

Ironically those who have lived there for 40 + years, which dates back to when DB levels were way over 100.....are still alive, and still there, and still wanting the race track to remain.

A health concern ?

Honestly ?

Colby Sledge makes foolish statements look easy.

By: jomike748 on 1/17/11 at 12:08

As with so many other racing facilities, car, motorcycle, etc. that "make noise", there will always be those who appose. Many tracks were developed long before the neighborhoods. When people moved there, what was their expectations? I come from a motocross racing back ground. Our tracks are almost always out in the country far from an urban setting, but all you need is someone to move nearby, knowing that racing takes place there, and complain. This always puts the facilities owners up to defending them selves for something that has been in established long before these opposers move in. Race tracks should be allowed to remain as long as they survive on their patrons who support the sport. These opposing people need to except what they came to. Any repectable facility is always looking for ways to improve on any issues that arrise, but they should not have to close down because of an unhappy few.

By: mrflood on 1/17/11 at 12:15

it's like people that buy a house next to the airport and then sue the city because of the noise. or buy a new house next to the 30 year old freeway and then make the state spend money to put up a sound barrier.........

the race track is older than most of the people complaining about the noise.

it's just stuped, if you don't like the noise then you shouldn't have bought the house to start with

next thing you know people will buy a used car and then sue the person because it's the wrong color...!!

By: PJ66 on 1/17/11 at 12:33

If this idiot Colby Sledge is so concerned about the noise from the racetrack, then why did he CHOOSE to live near it? He doesn't sound like he is very smart.

None-the-less, Sledge would be happy to know that the proposal from Save My Fairgrounds addresses the noise issue in multiple ways, so he doesn't have to worry about that anymore.

I might suggest the next time Mr. Sledge is goofing off at his state job, screwing the taxpayers by working on his anti-fairgrounds crusade when he is supposed to be doing state business, he look for a realtor and do a better job exploring where his next home will be.

By: vendor78 on 1/17/11 at 12:35

Breaking News.

Racetracks are noisy.

The new proposal by the Save My Fairgrounds group does not include anyone affiliated with the track from years past. The new group is committed to installing noise abatement technology. Colby, were you renting in this neighborhood when the video was taken? Will you be renting in the neighborhood a year from now?

By: fair_minded on 1/17/11 at 12:40

So let's check out something that Joey Garrison was too lazy to look into-- noise levels.

Colby Sledge and SNAP claim that their video shows racing sounds of 86-88 db. but that is NOT considered a dangerous or harmful noise level by the folks who figure these things out

A telephone dial-tone is 80db.. Traffic noise heard from inside your car is 85db... a concert violin is 82-92db... standing 3 feet away from a power mower, the sound is 107db!

here's a table with more typical sound levels:

Even OSHA, the government agency that monitors worker's safety in the work place does not require sound protection measures unless exposure is over 90db for *AT LEAST 8 HOURS* per day.... and no races or practices held at the Fairgrounds last that long, and in any event race events are not held each day...

just thought we should look at this in perspective.

By: jwd88 on 1/17/11 at 12:43

Mr Sledge always refers to the past for the problems. Refers to loudenss during school hours and loudness heard blocks wawy from the track.. What he is not telling you is that there has never been any noise mandates in the past other than cerfew times to quit racing. He always refers to the deaf ear to complaints of the neighbors to the track promoter.. In the PAST, this has been true. We are talking about the future, a future where we can all exist in the same neighborhood. Racecars can and will be made quiet. the track can and will have sound absorbtion barriers installed around the track. What you dont understand is the fairgrounds property is more than just a race track, it is an area that the average family can spent the entire weekend together, going to the expo events, the flea markets, and yes to the race track. In contrast to popular beliefs, there are a lot of people that love racing. Its a family afair.

Sometimes in life it takes an extreme measure to wake people up. the city has done a tremendous job in waking everybody up. I challenge all district 17 residents and local businesses to listen to the proposal submitted by Sterling, DW, Mr. Chaffin, and Mr. Curb. Schedule a Meeting with them. This is the chance for all your demands to be discussed and an agreement met by everyone. They want to be a great neighbor and want your input in redeveloping the property.

By: racer84 on 1/17/11 at 1:01

I'm wondering why Keith Moorman is no longer listed as the Chairman of SNAP ?

When did Colby move into the neighborhood ?

Generally people don't begin to RENT within a neighborhood and within months become CHAIRMAN of the entire neighborhood association.

Where does Colby actually pay property taxes ?

Seems odd

Once again, poor vision, the lack of involvement of DC to guide them has killed the political careers of both Dean and Sledge.

I'd say DC is giving their efforts a solid F / F- so far and wants no part of it.

The save my fairgrounds efforts much more resemble a DC ran campaign.

By: vendor78 on 1/17/11 at 1:15

Check this Channel 4 special.

By: fair_minded on 1/17/11 at 1:55

Answering your question racer84, i'd speculate that keith moorman is no longer the "front man" for SNAP because he's in the real estate business, and snap knows that it looks bad for their public front man to be a real estate developer.

and since there are only about a dozen active members of snap these days, their choices are pretty limited. most of the current members are recently moved into the neighborhood and more interested in making cash from the increasing value of their real estate than they are in making a "home" in the neighborhood. they have pretty much driven the older residents out of the organization.

in fact, there has been a good bit of talk in forming a new neighborhood group that would accurately represent the homeowners.

By: racer84 on 1/17/11 at 2:08

I did meet, and spent more than an hour with a long time SNAP member who was very upset with the SNAP leadership over the fairgrounds issue. She pointed across the street at several of the "No Racetrack" signs and said those people rent and had never attended a SNAP meeting, and she had been to every single one.

This is a long time resident, African American lady who also stated her son loved the sound of the race cars and would crack his window during summer months so the sound would lull him to sleep.

It's a shame that I have a better perspective of what the neighborhood residents really want, vs the person who chairs the association to represent them and their wishes!

Probably because we've actually talked to the neighbors, All of them....not hand picked new yuppie residents.

I'll be speaking with them again, today.

If Colby would like to meet us, He is more than welcome.

We can even bring news cameras to document what the neighbors want. I think just a quick ride around taking in the massive number of yard signs in favor of the Fairgrounds and Speedway would be obvious even to the uber intelligent.

I'm that confident, Is he ?

By: helloo people w... on 1/17/11 at 2:26

Hey I live near the airport, I believe the noise is too great and unhealthy for my family and myself. So how about closing the airport, I don't fly anywhere so I don't have a need for the airport to be here.

By: ds on 1/17/11 at 3:04

Is a racetrack the highest and best needs for the population of the city? yes or no.

By: MAmom on 1/17/11 at 3:37

ds - your question is flawed because more than the racetrack is at stake.
Many Fairgrounds supporters are not race fans. We want the Fairgrounds for the many diverse activities that are held there. And the racing community deserves to have the track, too.

The city fathers who left us this land realized that people need a meeting place; a place for entertainment activities. That's what the property has been used for over a hundred years now - and the reason most of in the Nashville/Middle-Tenneesse area value the fairgrounds.

Our present Mayor only wants to "monetize" the property. It's been my observation that mostly condescending newbies (like DEAN) & overly ambitious, business types are the ones who want to destroy the Fairgrounds.

By: ds on 1/17/11 at 3:45

ok, good answer. So if the racetrack stays will there be any changes?

By: Submariner 693 on 1/17/11 at 3:45

Is it any wonder Colby Sledge is the "Press Secretary Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus"? Not to slam Democrats but commmmeee-on. The track has been there a long time, likely before Mr. Sledge was born (judging from his picture on Linked In).
Is this just another knee jerk reaction by a Democratic who thinks that they can somehow "scream the loudest" to get what they want?
I can hear the high pitched whining now, "Oh that's too loud. I knew it was loud when I moved in but that doesn't matter now. I think those people in the stands are eating baloney sandwiches, listeners of country music, gun-owners and quite possibly redneck conservatives. Well maybe only one so I want my way, bulldoze it or I'll whine louder than a straight exhaust V-8 with headers!"
Typical, typical.

By: CrimesDown on 1/17/11 at 3:54

I'm here to tell you, the race track will make you deaf. It has made Karl Dean deaf. He can't hear the very loud majority of the people, that want him to shut up and leave the fairgrounds alone. I hope the results of the next election are loud enough for him to hear. Next year, I would love to be able to say..Karl, Can you hear us now?

By: CrimesDown on 1/17/11 at 4:01

Heavy traffic, window air conditioner, noisy restaurant, power lawn mower 80–89 decibels.

By: CrimesDown on 1/17/11 at 4:38

I'm glad they care so much for our hearing. I guess this means that Karl is going to ban the following Metro backed sources of noise.

Firework show 150 -190 decibels

Average concert 115 decibels

City bus 90-100 decibels

Jet taking off 130 to 140 decibels

Jet landing average 106 decibels

Garbage truck average 97 decibels

Politicians acceptance speech 90 to 100 decibels

NFL football game 110 decibels

Symphonic music peak 120-137 decibels

Gavel strike at council meeting 100 decibels

By: Nitzche on 1/17/11 at 5:01

Karl dean and the North East posse would get rid of the Parthenon if they could! They have -O- connection to this city's past. As far as they are concerned, we did not exist until 1991, when the North East invaded our fair city and brought their version of the North to the South! PHIL,BILL, KARL.....hey what do yall think of this city's past history? Just whatt I thought, you don't!

By: bfra on 1/17/11 at 5:02

Don't forget about the cars with over-tinted windows (against the law), boom box radios with amps so loud, it rocks the cars. Karl's attention should be more on enforcing laws, if he wants to make Nashville more appealing.

By: MAmom on 1/17/11 at 5:50

to ds' question: So if the racetrack stays will there be any changes?

A proposal has been made by Fairgrounds supporters to use private investment to improve the property. A high-level description and artist's rendering of the alternative proposal is at:

The plan contains: "provisions for improving the existing facilities, making the site more environmentally friendly with more landscaping, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL SOUND BARRIERS FOR THE RACETRACK, solar panels, wind farm, increased green space, electric vehicle charging stations, parking with rain garden detention, solar panel installation and much more. This will be a showcase for environmental sustainability in the heart of Davidson County."

This, or something like it, is the kind of "redevelopment" the Fairgrounds needs after years of neglect. Improved and run professionally (like a business), the Fairgrounds will be profitable and better than ever in the future!

This kind of "redevelopment" would be true to the donors' wishes & benefits most of the people of Nashville - as well as the tourists who are going to stay at the new convention center.

Ostensibly the reason for "redevelopment" was to avoid potential future loss. If this plan, or one like it, is adopted - there would be no risk of loss.

By: Chris H on 1/17/11 at 10:07

My opinion is simple... These idiots bought cheap real estate near the track, put a few dollars into it and with the hopes of closing the race track their property values will increase significantly. And whats worse is they have their man Carl Dean doing everything he can to push this idiotic scheme through.. Wish someone would do some digging on the connection to Dean, the anti-fairgrounds group and the construction companies that will "win" the bids to do the work. I know some lobbyist for Hickory Hollow Malls management company is involved with the anti-fairgrounds group somehow. Cant remember is he is sitting on the board or what, but that is only one of what I am sure are many connections in this land theft and dash for cash.

By: bfra on 1/18/11 at 9:58

Karl's idea to move Fairground activities to Hickory Hollow Mall, should tell everyone, he has no logical way of thinking. Spend millions on a private owned property, rather than already public owned property, whose pockets was he trying to line?

By: xhexx on 1/18/11 at 10:19

Didn't this dumb ass Sledge notice the racetrack was there when he moved to the neighborhood?

By: GUARDIAN on 1/18/11 at 11:49

GUARDIAN- The decibel levels are not as high as when planes fly over and meet federal guidelines.

By: MAmom on 1/20/11 at 12:00

Thank you Metro Council for blocking demolition of the racetrack.

By: JWHAYES on 4/12/11 at 7:11

I would rather spend my money on going to the races than watch a bunch of men run around a grass field or on ice . Racing is a Southern Tradition ... lets leave it be.