Several Prince George's County residents took opposing sides at a public hearing on Monday on an issue which would permit amplification - read rock 'n' roll bands and rock music - at county community swimming pools.
The issue was so hotly contested that it caused the county council to delay final action. Instead, the council sent the controversial bill back to the fiscal and planning committe for renovation.
The bill introduced by council member Floyd E. Wilson Jr., would allow neighborhood community pools to obtain permits for the use of radios, recording devices and public address systems for entertainment purposes.
Several community pools sponsor teen and adult nights throughtout the summer, according to William Sylvester, manager of the New Carrolton Swim Club, "We want the opportunity to put recorded musci on for them. The existing ordinance (which prevents any amplification) is discriminatory clubs are not covered by the restriction."
Paul Rosenberg, president of the P. G. County Community Pool Association and a Bowie resident, said that 20,000 families in the county belong to community pools. "It is often the only recreational outlet in their communities. We are no outsiders trying to force this on our neighbors, we are the neighbors."
But Bruce Blevins, a New Carrollton resident who lives one block from the New Carrollton pool, is strongly opposed to the bill. "The rights of those near the pool must be upheld. I can hear the music with my windows closed and the air-conditioning on."
A.J. Miller, another New Carrollton resident and pool member, testified that announcements made on July 3 about upcoming Fourth of July events were heard plainly in his house. "And that was just a human voice," he said.
"The issue is one of noise, and noise pollution," said Robert Ridley, a Cheverly resident who lives near the Cheverly Swim Club. "The citizens who live near these pools have to put up with enough-with the inconvenience of increased traffic, noise and litter" because of the pools.
Fred Wentland, a Bowie resident who lives next to the Belair Bath and Tennis Club supported the bill, however, "I've been there with a rock 'n' roll band, and the sound did carry and I did not appreciated it in my house.
"But I have to accept it provides. It sure beats the vandalism of the streets."
Several young people testified that the use of the amplification, and the music it brings to community pools help to relieve "a boring summer night. It is really a let down when you can't have a pool pary," said Joe Debay of Cheverly.
William Brown, the zoning enforcement officer with the Department of Licensing and Permits responsible for enforcing the existing "no amplification ordinance," said the pool amplification was a "source of constant citizen complaints."
He said the department, with only four inspectors in the county for all licensing and permit regulations, had not prosecuted any amplification violations "pending the outcome of the bill."
Vera Weibach, a New Carrollton council member, offered several suggestions to the bill, including the installation at each pool of noise monitors.
"It's obvious we must provide a control, " said Weibach. The bill specifies that any amplification must not exceed 60 decibels.
"We do not ask permission to blast citizens out of their homes," said Rosenberg. "Let us entertain them (teenagers) and get them off the streets."
The bill, which would not have gone into effect until October, cancelling out any change this season, was sent back to committee after it appeared destined for defeat by the majority of the council.
"We'll do one more run through committee and give (Wilson) a chance to get my vote," said council member Gerard T. McDonough.