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Superintendent's Statement on PA Permits

December 9, 2015 3:07 PM

Madison Parks' vision is to provide the ideal system of parks, natural resources and recreational opportunities which will enhance the quality of life for everyone.  This vision statement informs our mission, values, and work each day.


Madison Parks has been working on the issue of regulation of sound from events in parks for over 2 years.   Over that time period, we have worked with organizers, impacted neighbors, and policy makers to identify these issues and to identify reasonable and practical recommendations to ensure our work continues to be in accordance with our vision. The public policy discussion and staff action on it to date is rooted in actions taken by the Park Commission and input received from elected officials related to the need to have successful community events without unnecessary adverse impacts on non-attendees.


In 2015, based upon research into standards being applied in numerous other comparable communities across the country, Madison Parks worked with Public Health of Madison and Dane County to identify a clear and objective standard that could be applied to monitor and permit sound in Madison Parks.  Collaborating with PHMDC and Alders Rummel and Zellers, Madison Parks held a listening session on this issue in March 2015.    At that meeting Madison Parks communicated that we would be recommending a limit of sound at the perimeter of events that would be monitored by ranger staff using full octave band analysis.   We monitored numerous events in 2015, and in nearly every case, staff believes the events were close to fully complying and were clearly working to achieve the established limits.  After the event season ended, Parks began work on establishing new permit and reservation fees for Public Amplification (PA) permits for 2016.  Legislative File # 40772 includes information on both the original proposal and the updated, revised proposal submitted by staff to the Parks Commission for consideration tonight.   The revised proposal includes a number of changes from the original and was generated by staff based upon input from policy makers.


Mayor Soglin and I support the need to evaluate and regulate the noise impacts on the quality of life for all members of our community. I am proud of the work that staff, Alders, and Park Commissioners have done on this issue. I trust that the policy adopted will provide clarity and transparency for everyone, including those who organize the many important community events that happen in Madison Parks each year. I look forward to a full discussion of the issue this evening that is rooted in a full understanding of the facts at hand.



Proposed 2016 Public Amplification Permit Fees


Public Amplification Permit

                Type of Reservation: All Park events and reservations.

                Sound Limit: 92 db at the sound board; or 85 db, 150 ft from the source.

                Time Limit: Between 8 AM and 10 PM

Duration: 6 hours

                Permit Fee: $100

                Additional Hour(s) between 8 AM and 10 PM: $20

                Extraordinary extension to 11 PM (requires Park Commission approval): $50

                Special Conditions:

  • The Park Commission can require additional conditions related to PA permit usage as a condition on a park special event permit approval.
  • Two 6 hour permits can be purchased on a day.
  • No carryover of hours unused on one date may be applied to a second date.
  • Ranger staff will monitor events for compliance. If the sound board limit is used, rangers will in 2016 monitor at the perimeter and/or 150 ft from the source as well for data collection purposes.




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