About Merriweather: Now Hear This

I was really impressed with your discussion about Merriweather (“Now Appearing at Merriweather: The Rotating Stage,”) in the May issue of The Business Monthly. If I were someone outside of Howard County, I would think Columbia has a gift.

But I am a resident of Columbia. And I know what Merriweather has become over the decades. I live a straight two miles from the stage, near Wendy’s and Pizza Hut, off Route 108.

Noise: I notice in all articles about Merriweather there is no mention of the intruding noise. Just check police reports or how many times Merriweather is called for loud noise. After their analysis a few years ago, residents were informed [decibel] levels were established, but just a few weeks ago I never heard Merriweather louder and, again, I live two miles away. In previous years, I could only hear muffled bass sounds thundering through our neighborhood and our closed windows. Now, the entire audible range is heard, I can discern the words.

So, we called Merriweather and the police to complain a few weeks ago. Each says they monitor the loudness and will turn it down, but obviously the monitoring is nil. The police say they now have a presence at the pavilion to turn it down, but what are they hearing before my complaint? What are the patrons hearing? Do patrons really like knock-you-over loudness? I don’t have to complain too much, because I can rely on residents who are much closer.

Noise solution: I read from a complainer that I agree with: move Merriweather to Route 70, near the [Hoard County] Fairgrounds. What do you think? [It offers] Plenty of space and solves [the] parking [issue]. Probably a cheaper solution is to have an automated loudness control with the [decibel] maximums built in. [It’s] kind [of] a no-brainer, don’t you think?

I would like all articles that talk about Merriweather [to] always indicate the progress, or lack of it, in reducing the noise problem … adhering to their [decibel] levels, if any actually [are] observed.

— Michael Binder, Columbia

Dear Mr. Binder,

Thank you for taking the time to write to The Business Monthly. First, you mentioned that in “all articles about Merriweather there is no mention of intruding noise.” On that note, I refer you to an article I wrote from the August 2015 issue, “Merriweather Upgrades (Finally) Begin,” which includes a section about noise control.

Secondly, my May 2016 article, “Now Appearing at Merriweather: The Rotating Stage,” was written just before the new stagehouse was finished and the new season started with the M3 Festival, so I couldn’t address any noise issues at that point.

However, I did reach out to Lisa de Hernandez of the Howard County Health Department, and she said that there was one written complaint to Merriweather (that was copied to the department) regarding the writer’s frustration with the loud music from the venue; and that there were “a couple” of complaints during the recent Kenny Chesney concert, “to which our inspector on-site that evening responded and took readings. However, we are not seeing near the number of complaints that we saw last year at this time.”

Also, since Merriweather is in the midst of a long-discussed, five-year, $30 million renovation and is an anchor of Downtown Columbia’s redevelopment, I don’t think a new facility will be built near the Howard County Fairgrounds. — Ed.