The Party Next-door

To the Editor of the Post-Standard:

On Nov. 1, posted on-line the most recent in your series of stories about tailgate parties. (

I write to you in the spirit of journalistic integrity and telling both sides of the story. My apartment overlooks the parking lot where that tailgate party took place, and I called the police four times.

The parking lot, located at the corner of University Avenue and Harrison Street, was owned by Crouse Hospital for many years. The tailgate parties held there were loud and trashy. After each game, about a dozen guys would return, unzip, and pee in the parking lot. When I reported this to the vice president of Crouse, he was appalled and took action to have a greater security presence after games. Later, when I reported that a woman had dropped her pants and peed, he thought it was funny.

Last summer Crouse sold the parking lot to Syracuse University, which has taken a different approach to the public urination problem: S.U. has put two portable toilets in the parking lot.

The tailgate parties start four or five hours before the game. Saturday’s kickoff was at 3:00 p.m. and by 12:15 p.m. there were 28 tailgate parties going (19 under tents and nine not), including the pig roast, which was not particularly well-patronized.

Nevertheless, the hundreds of people in the parking lot generated a lot of noise, most particularly with their music, which centered heavily on rock, rap and salsa. Personally, I listen to WAER jazz and WCNY classical, but it’s the volume that matters, and the volume is ear-splitting.

The City of Syracuse noise ordinance basically says that you can’t play your music so loudly that it is heard beyond your property boundary; this music could be heard two blocks away.

I called 911. The operator took the information and said she would send an officer to get the music turned down. She didn’t. Half an hour later, I called 911 again. Again, a different operator said she would send someone. Again, she didn’t. Around 1:30 p.m. one of the music sources was turned up even louder.

How would you feel if a bunch of strangers from out of town had a very loud party next door to you? People who do not live in the city come to these tailgate parties and do not care at all about the neighbors. They are selfish strangers who are totally oblivious to the community in which they are partying.

This particular parking lot is across University Avenue from two small apartment buildings, and immediately adjacent to a big apartment building. One hundred seventy-six people live in this apartment building, and 160 of them are sick or disabled. I needed to nap but what I got was my nerves shredded by a bunch of morons violating the noise ordinance. Who does this? Who parties for hours in the rain and cold?

At 1:30 p.m. I made my third phone call to 911 and got a third different operator. This one—quite rudely—told me that the city had no jurisdiction over the University/Harrison parking lot. Why the heck didn’t the first two operators tell me they didn’t have jurisdiction? By now I was so distraught that I was in tears.

I called University Security. Within 15 minutes, they sent someone and the music got turned down to a tolerable level.

The next day, as always, the parking lot was full of trash—empty beer carriers, paper plates, bags of garbage—and the seagulls were swirling and shrieking around the garbage. The University is now causing the violation of the noise ordinance by seagulls. The parking charge is $20 per car and the parking lot holds 320 cars: the University should be paying someone to clean up the mess in the parking lot within one hour of the final game whistle, instead of waiting until Monday to clean it up.

There are two sides to every story. The Post-Standard has been reporting how much fun people have at tailgate parties. Now, how about reporting how offensive the tailgate parties are to the people who live in the University area?

The next home game is this Saturday, Nov. 8, at 12:30 p.m. The parties will start at 8:00 a.m. Would you like to come visit me and see how much fun the tailgate parties are from the point of view of the city residents?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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