Letters to the Editor

Many love the peace and quiet in Langley | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Although I no longer live near downtown Langley, I’ve been following the discussion of a noise ordinance with interest.

Noise pollution hits us in so many ways, often ways over which we have no or little control. And, of course, what’s rock-and-roll to one person is plain old, ear-zinging noise to another.

When I first moved to Langley several years ago, I took great pleasure, as did hundreds of others, in Djangofest, especially the live music all over the village. Every nook and cranny seemed to have a couple or three musicians strumming away with those lively sounds.

Part of the charm, however — a big part of it — was that the music was unamplified and so became a series of little gems up and down Second Street and beyond. Turn a corner and there was music. Walk past a hedge — more music. Intimate music in intimate settings. The lawn of Island Coffeehouse & Books was a favorite. But the music didn’t affect anyone beyond the boundaries of the venue.

Now Langley seems hell-bent on having amplified music throughout the town on most every summer weekend. This is not at all the same as that quiet and lovely music, unamplified, we enjoyed so much.

Amplified music shouts, screams and demands attention and has a powerful impact on everyone around, including those who may not wish to be shouted or screamed at.

I know there are a few festivals and events that seem to “require” amplified music — I’d argue the “requirement” but I can accept it for now. And folks in any community can live with the occasional celebration that breaks from traditionally quieter days and nights.

The problems come when those quieter days and nights begin to disappear and celebrations with loud music or other noise begin to be the norm.

One of the pleasures of Langley has always been a quiet stroll through the village on a lovely summer day. But last summer, especially on weekends, there was no quiet stroll through the village. There was amplified music instead. And in a space as small as the Langley downtown, it doesn’t take much amplified music to create an entirely different atmosphere.

And for those who live within earshot of the music, aka noise, it can mean hours of disturbance, and let’s face it, a thumping bass during the day can be just as annoying as one in the middle of the night. Folks who live close by can’t go home to get away from it. They ARE home.

I don’t hear anyone asking the city to cut off all amplified music and offer absolute silence, but I do hear folks asking that in Langley’s desire for “reasonable” limits, the mayor, council and police consider the lives of people who live in the village, including those at Brookhaven who have little choice about where they reside.

A community that cares about its residents cares about them all.

Mayor Samuelson says, according to the South Whidbey Record, that the city will continue “to promote the playing of live music during its festival season.” Live music — great. Amplified live music — keep it down to the boundaries of the venue. Amplified music, after all, supports only one very small aspect of “arts, culture and education” in Langley.

Personally, I stopped going to Langley on summer weekends last year because the noise was just unpleasant for me. And my own response makes me realize that many others come to Whidbey and Langley for a break from the grind of the city.

If the tourism folks are asking what will bring people to the island, we have something that’s irreplaceable: peace and quiet and rest from that busy, noisy world.

Nobody is asking for absolute silence (impossible anyway), but simply for the peace and quiet which we love here. And which, while irreplaceable, can so easily be damaged.

Molly Cook


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