Booming bass thrumming from stacks of speakers atop cars at all hours of the night is driving people near Franklin Park to distraction as they beg for action from authorities.
“You can hear it through earplugs, through air conditioning, through closed windows – you can feel it in your bones,” Jamaica Plain’s Michaela Thompson said. “You feel trapped. It feels like auditory torture.”
Residents in the area around the city’s large park say things have suddenly escalated over the past few weeks as the weather improved, and now even miles away from the various noise sources that are popping up around Boston they’re lying awake as loud music blasts.
Photos locals provided showed a giant rack of speakers multiple feet high atop a car on Circuit Drive in Franklin Park.
“These are intensely powerful speaker systems,” Dorothy Fennell, who lives right near the park, said. “They can be felt and heard a mile away.”
Fennell’s been a neighborhood ringleader on this issue, which flares up every summer, though it was at its worst in 2020 and a bit better last year. An email thread, dormant since the heights of off-road-vehicle and loud-music issues from a year ago, has fired back up with neighbors’ horror stories.
One of them, Faith Girdler, told the Herald she has no problem with people having parties — just not ones like what woke her up Monday night after 2:30 a.m. as music boomed from south of the Forest Hills MBTA station.
“There was just a huge, huge party going on,” she said. “I thought we had this problem dealt with … now everybody is just dreading a summer of loud parties.”
A car with a giant set of speakers on its roof booms music along Circuit Drive in Franklin Park. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy Fennell.)
Different people have varying ideas of what to do. Fennell suggested enabling seizing some of the expensive technology from offenders. Girdler said there needs to be the kind of coordinated community response that helped take care of the ATV problem, which was massive last summer but not too bad this year. Thompson wants higher fines. All want to hear more from the city and other officials.
Fatima Ali-Salaam of the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council — who said the city simply should do a better job of enforcing existing noise ordinances — said the thing not to do is what the city and police have begun, which is closing a bunch of major streets in the area.
“People who are law-abiding — why aren’t we allowed to use these streets?” she said, acknowledging that the police department is also understaffed and dealing with physically changing roads. “It’s not sustainable and it’s not working. You’re not going to be able to barricade their way out of this. Have people even tried talking to the people?”
Mayor Michelle Wu’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
A Boston Police Department spokesman said that there doesn’t appear to be an uptick in noise complaints at this point, at least in terms of calls.
City Councilor Kendra Lara, whose district includes JP neighborhoods near the big park, described the noise situation as “an ongoing problem.”
“We got it under control last summer but we need to make sure we create and implement a plan before it gets out of hand again,” Lara told the Herald, adding that after the council’s budgeting season wraps up Wednesday. “Our office will be getting right to it with the mayor’s office to figure out new sustainable solutions for the problems.”
At-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty, the public safety chair, encouraged people to call the city’s “party hotline” or 911 to get a response.
“Living near a park, beach or green space in our city should not come with the expectation that you will be subject to loud parties and gatherings at every turn throughout the summer,” he said. “We need to explore ways that we can work in partnership with our Boston and State Police Department and our Parks and Transportation Department to solve these issues. As frustrating as it has become, I do not encourage residents confronting the revelers themselves.”
Flaherty shared the audio of a woman who called his office Monday night from her home around Blue Hill Avenue after 1 a.m. as the woman pleaded for the city to do something — speaking up over a cacophony of noise behind her.
Thompson, one of the frustrated JP residents, said the “very small groups of bad actors” who are the ones actually making all the noise just need to take other people into consideration when doing what they enjoy, as one does in a city.
“I like to play softball, but I do that in the field and don’t just throw softballs through people’s windows, right?” she said wryly. “And I want goats in my lawn, but I am not allowed have them, and that’s OK. Nobody’s saying you can’t have fun. Just figure out a way that’s not ruining it for everyone else.”
BOSTON, MA – June 28: The main closure gate near the Shattuck on Circuit Drive area around Franklin Park, along Circuit Drive and Jewish War Vets on June 28, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)