LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Enforce noise ordinance

Jun 28, 2011


Sec. 22-9. Engine exhaust. The discharge into the open air of the exhaust of any steam engine, stationary internal combustion engine or motor vehicle, except through a muffler or other device which effectively prevents loud explosive noises therefrom is unlawful.

There are many Grand Haven citizens who live here, pay our taxes and support local business. We would like to enjoy our short but beautiful summers also. It has come to the point where the noise prevents one from even enjoying the backyard. We have a noise ordinance that needs to be actively enforced. A few warnings and a few tickets would send the message to everyone that Grand Haven wants to be a quiet and peaceful community.

— Alice Akin, Grand Haven



Hey Alice the city of grand haven breaks it own noise ordinance on a daily basis’s with that loud out of date musical fountain that I can hear clear as a bell in east town at 10pm. 'What's good for the goose is good for the gander'

Sound Judgement

Cute sayings aside...The facts are the Musical Fountain as well as most car stereos are not in violation of OSHA guidelines or city ordinances which allow exposure to 120db sound pressure levels for 15 minutes before any hearing damage occurs. Some of the extremely loud motorcycles who feel they have the right to take off thier mufflers, and some cars certainly are well exceeding the guidlines set forth by our governments Occupational, Safety and Health Act. I live in the city right off Sheldon and walk through my neighborhood frequently, and am amazed at how our Dept. of Public Safety allows so many violations on Sheldon alone to be unchecked. There seems to be a lack of respect or an sense of entitlement by some. Please at least have consideration for those who live, work and pay taxes here as well, and YES I like to ride motorcycles too.


"city ordinances which allow exposure to 120db sound pressure levels for 15 minutes". Where are they measuring the level of sound from... If it’s from a car its right next to it, if it’s the musical fountain they measure it from City Hall? It’s a joke if you are young and enjoy your music loud you will get harassed by the local police who only decided if they will enforce the laws depending on the color of your skin or who your family knows. “amazed at how our Dept. of Public Safety allows so many violations on Sheldon alone to be unchecked” it is because everybody is white and you live in the better part of town!. Why does grand haven have so many police officers? The avg big city with crime has on avg 1 police offer per 1000 people, here in grand haven we have one police officer for every 300 people? Waste of money !!!

GH Citizen

I live over 4 miles from Waterfront Stadium. I had just put my daughter to bed around 8:30 PM when I started to hearing a droning noise. I went outside to investigate to see if it was a car stereo or neighbor. What I found was it was the musical fountain. For a city that has posted amplified sound ordinances, there must be an exception or exclusion to this nightly event.

I've grown to except the loud pipes save lives, and the random loud car. But how can you enforce an ordinance when your own city violates it themselves. I am all for tourism, but don't forget those of us hear and paying 12 months a year.

I'd be curious to have a city official provide some facts, like readings at the stadium. Has this gotten louder over the years? I never remember hearing it so easily 5 years ago. I can even name the tunes! If I can do that at 4 miles away it's too loud!

Sure I'm not a fan of the random hot rod doing a burn out or motorcycling blaring past as well. But if it's going to be addressed, I think the musical fountain debate should be included. I live outside of the city to remove myself from the out of town visitor noise. If I played music loud enough to hear four miles away, you can be assured I would be ticketed. The city needs to be a little more respectful and considerate. I think the fountain is a great draw for tourism, but I don't think people on the pier or 4+ miles away need to be subject to the noise.


Hello Fellow GH Residents,

I agree about the fountain being to loud and that we are able to hear it loud as I live 2.5 miles away. However I did get a phone call after letting the City know about it and they did say they would look into it. This was on Monday 6/27 that I spoke with them. We will wait and see what happens. As for those who drive around with the radio up or loud cars. I feel that thee should be some tickets given. Fortunately we live in an area tat is a vacatrion spot to many and we are lucky to live here year round. People need to respect that this is not a personal playground and take care of it and respect those of us who live here.


For those who believe the musical fountain is loud, consider this...

We operate the fountain at a very low volume on every night except for Fourth of July, and Coast Guard Festival, where it is cranked all the way up. Many nights it is so quiet that the music from the Kirby House, and other local businesses and events can be heard in the waterfront stadium over the sound of the fountain.

The fountain currently starts at 10:10pm and the show is a short 20 minutes long, so if someone is hearing music around 8:30pm (as one person commented), it is NOT the fountain.

We work to keep the fountain at reasonable volumes, as to respect our neighbors. Monday night (another night that someone mentioned), the volume was so low, it could barely be heard from the seating in the waterfront stadium.

The wind also plays a huge part in the perceived volume of the fountain; if you have ever been to the fountain, and noticed the volume wavering up and down a bit, you are hearing the winds effect on the sound waves. Additionally, the sound system was professionally designed and built, and the speakers are aimed to fire towards the waterfront stadium. If you get too far outside of the 'sweet spot' you can barely hear the sound if at all. Believe it or not, the operator up on Dewey Hill, cannot even hear the music even though he is only one hundred feet from the speakers.

I invite anybody with a complaint to actually come down to the waterfront stadium with a decibel meter, and see for themselves that the volume is kept to a very reasonable level. Not only can you see for yourself that the volume is reasonable, but you can enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the true gems in Grand Haven; one of the attractions that make Grand Haven unique and great.

I suspect that on most nights people are hearing music from other sources, and confusing it for the musical fountain. I will admit, depending on the wind, the sound can travel a bit on some nights, especially now that there are no longer mature trees lining Washington Ave to deaden the sound (it now creates sort of a bull-horn effect without the trees when the wind is just right), and resonates, but these nights are rare as the wind needs to be blowing the sound right down Washington Ave.

Once again, I urge you to come down to the fountain, and see for yourself. Talk to the operator on scene, and we will be glad to answer your questions, and address your complaints the best we can. I will personally be down there with a decibel meter tonight to get hard numbers on how loud the fountain has been the past couple weeks. I suspect it will easily be under 80db at the waterfront stadium which is not too loud at all.

As for the teenagers with cars packed full of subwoofers, and especially the motorcycles with extremely loud exhausts, I am all for enforcing the noise ordinance.



While I appreciate your facts of the volume on the hill, at the waterfront and to the operator, it doesnt take away the fact it is loud and very audible to many people who simply dont want to hear it.
I grew up on the east side and our parents used to tell us in the summer, "when you hear the fountain its time for bed."

Today, I live in GHT. Still hear the fountain. Dont really need a meter to measure the sound, I have ears.

GH Citizen

Confirmed Signal my timing was incorrect and I will vouch for that. Whats worse is the fact you have confirmed it starts even later! What I am hearing is clearly the musical fountain. I would find it hard to believe that there was a stationary sound source playing Pops and Jazz from the direction of downtown.

While I think you do a good job of explaining the fountain, I think you fail to realize the negative impact it is having. By not acknowledging the possiblity and just trying to disprove the comments I think your missing it.

I think Real Reaon does a great job of taking the middle ground on the subject.

Based on sound waves I have no doubt the operator on the hill can't hear anything other than the echo back off buildings. I can tell you that on any night it's playing take a drive to all of our citiy and townships fine parks for an example and I'm sure you'll hear it. It maybe within OSHA requirements, but simply put it is noise pollution. If I want to see and HEAR the fountain I'll come downtown and view it. Should I be subjected to it nightly because I am in a 5 mile radius of it? As you invite me to test the DB levels which I already agree with you on, I invite you to investigate further. I live in the township.......not the city.

I'm not asking for a shut down of a wonderful attraction. I'm asking for some consideration. I think if you read most of the comments they all agree that the loud cars, and stereo's is not acceptable. But at the same time, in fairness the noise pollution at current levels / design of the fountain can be just as annoying and happen on a nightly basis.

Facts and data are wonderful, but sometimes you have to pound the pavement to get the full story........


KylePetty - "It's a joke if you're young and you enjoy your music loud you will get harassed by the local Police who only decided if they will enforce the laws depending on the color of your skin or who your family knows." Wow. Is that what you really think? You think the Police know who your family knows? Let me explain something - your "right" to play your music loud, ends at the beginning of my ear drum. When it becomes loud to the point where it's disturbing someone else, it's TOO LOUD. Not everybody may like your particular kind of music, and playing it loudly forces your music on them, and they have no choice in the matter - surely, you see how unfair that is? What freedom, exactly, is it, that gives you that "right?" Driving a car down the street, as some do, with the music turned up so loud that it vibrates rust particles off the body of the car, is too loud. If you're driving to come to visit your friend who lives next door to me, I shouldn't be able to hear your music a quarter of a mile away, before you get there - yet that behavior is very common in Grand Haven, and nothing gets done about it. The time I spend living with Waverly Street as a back yard, in the summer, is nothing but BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! from the bass and volume in someone's car, all night long - and I mean, LITERALLY, all night long - practically as soon as the snow goes away, every year. It disturbs the peace, it frequently wakes me up, and to my way of thinking, that's not only unfair, it's rude, impolite, selfish, immature, and indicative of the respect we've lost for one another, in our society, today. As for the likelihood of you getting busted for playing loud music having anything to do with the color of your skin, I'm going to leave that one alone, because I simply don't believe it even enters the equation, for Law Enforcement.


GHXpat I am sure if a police cars drives by you or your family they do not even take a second look at you because you are white. Now if you are not white in the city of grand haven the police seem to take an extra interest in what you are doing in town, they will ask things like “are you just visiting or passing though? “ Do you live here? Who are you staying with?/ what brings you here ??? ect…… If you are not white you are a suspect in grand haven

Fly on the Wall

The musical fountain is the reason I have central air conditioning. The "world's largest and fully automated musical fountain" routinely wakes me up out of a sleep with its dum-dum-dum-dum 2010 space odyssey theme at 9:50 or 10:10 or 10:30 or whatever random time it fires off if I have a window open.

The musical fountain loudly brags of its "35,000 watts of power". By comparison, the Grateful Dead's "Wall of Sound", recognized as one of the loudest amplification systems in the history of rock and roll (when it worked!) generated a total 26,400 watts.

So yes, the musical fountain is an albatross hanging around the neck of Grand Haven.

It's a nuisance.

A noise violator.

A pain in the ear.


WHAT IF the speakers for the fountain were installed on the back of the bleachers and facing West??

GH Citizen

"WHAT IF the speakers for the fountain were installed on the back of the bleachers and facing West?? "

Funny I was thinking the same exact thing! Dewey hill would block most of the sound from bothering Ferrysburg. Not to mention the range to audicence would be lower, allowing it to reduce the amplification further. I'm sure there is logistical issues with this but it's a start to a solution.

Seeing other people share the same thoughts. I think it's time to actually make a call to voice my thoughts to an actual group that can make some changes. I encourage others to do it as well.

Fly on the Wall

deleted -

Fly on the Wall

Nomad, You're a genius!!
Nomad for mayor.


Funny, just read today that Calgary was testing this device starting next week: Noise Snare http://www.snrsystems.com/, a decibel detector paired to a camera to track vehicules violating noise ordinances. Just sayin.


I live in GH Township and can occasionally hear the musical fountain. I can also hear ball games, the school bands, powerboats on the lake, garbage trucks (too early in the morning for me!) and sometimes the train if I'm up late. Get over it people!! Go live off the grid somewhere if you can't handle the sounds of modern living. If a vehicle is too loud it should be checked for faulty or illegal equipment and ticketed. Who will get tickets for lighting off firecrackers this weekend and do the fireworks violate the city's noise ordinance?


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