Island Rec calls for noise lift at Linde Fields for cheerleading routines, senior ceremonies

The days of cheerleading without music at John O. Linde Park may come to an end if the Town of Friday Harbor lifts the park’s noise limitations.

The Island Rec Board and staff, who manage the facility, have requested that the Town of Friday Harbor change a conditional-use permit to allow brief periods of noise, contained in the park. The issue will be discussed at noon, Thursday, Sept. 20, at the town council chambers at 60 Second St. before the council votes.

A lift on park noise could allow the use of a speaker to play music during cheerleaders’ performances, as well as to announce players, particularly during events honoring seniors. Noise would only be allowed from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and for no longer than 15 minutes at a time.

In a presentation to the council on Aug. 16, Maddie Ovenell, Island Rec director, said the sound would not be comparable to the loudspeaker at the high school, which is used to moderate football games. Instead, staff would bring a portable speaker to the Carter Avenue park and wirelessly connect it to smartphones to play music or announce players names via a microphone. Staff would set decibel limits and oversee the approval of noise requests for sanctioned events like games, but not practices or public gatherings.

On Sept. 8, Tiger youth football cheerleaders performed three roughly four-minute routines to test how the noise lift would affect neighbors. Town council will discuss the impacts at the public meeting. Neighbors of the park have also been mailed a notice of the meeting.

Ovenell said Island Rec staff have never approved requests for amplified sound in the almost two years they have managed the park. Last year, the Tigers cheerleaders were approved to play music at one game through the Town of Friday Harbor.

The San Juan Island School District owns the park, and Island Rec staff have overseen operations since their lease agreement began in January 2016. Ovenell said the facility serves eight groups: Friday Harbor High School softball, girls soccer and boys soccer; Tiger football and cheerleaders; club teams for soccer and lacrosse; and Island Rec. The public park includes a fieldhouse to rent and playground equipment.

The facility is also funded with taxpayer money. According to Ovenell, 8 cents collected from Island Rec’s levy on San Juan residents go toward maintenance and operations. The overall levy is for 38.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and runs through 2021. Ovenell added that Island Rec has made improvements to the park, including planting trees to screen their maintenance facility from neighbors; improving a trail to a nearby trailer park; and placing netting around the soccer fields. Daily maintenance includes mowing, striping the fields and reviewing security cameras.

“We really work very hard to follow the rules and make sure it is an asset to this community,” she said. “And we … want to be good neighbors.”

Town Councilman Noel Monin said he shares a property line with the park. He has noticed a noise increase but sees the facility as a positive addition to the island, overall.

“It’s a change in quality in life,” he said. “It was once a quiet part of the town and now it’s not; it’s a vibrant part of the town. That’s, I think, more of an adjustment and having to look beyond the self and looking at more of a community aspect.”

For more information, visit