Facing the Music: Environmental Impact Assessment of Building a Concert Hall on North Campus

1. Introduction

For this project we propose the construction of a 10,000-seat concert venue, the fictional Farmvegas Civic Center (FCC), at North Campus (Lancer Park). Lancer Park is a 50 acre residential and recreation community. The FCC will be erected at the current apartment construction at Lancer Park. Two sports fields will be replaced with parking lots (Figure 1).

It is important to note that we are not building on an un-altered landscape, so we are analyzing additional impact from FCC construction and utilization. We used an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to analyze possible impact on the following components of Lancer Park: physical resources, ecological resources, human use values and quality of life values. EIAs are documents that are used to inform the public as well as interest groups of what damages and benefits could possibly incur from a project.  EIAs outline possible alternatives to the proposed project, provide a baseline evaluation of the area, and summarize how a project would affect the environment in which it takes place. They are primarily used to support environmental protection and sustainable development; protect the environmental, economic, and social health of surrounding communities; and prevent environmental problems before they occur.

The four impact areas listed above are analyzed using different techniques, such as a thermal imaging camera in order to assess climate impacts, biodiversity studies to understand the plant and animal populations, water and soil testing, etc. Each of these is discussed in more detail in the following sections. Within each section is a current assessment of the status of these resources, followed by the possible impact from the FCC use and construction. This is followed by a discussion of possible mitigation techniques to keep the area healthy, and finally a summary and conclusion.

Figure 1. Digitized maps of Lancer Park before and after the building of FCC (purple). There will also be two additional parking lots (green) that replace the current sports fields.

2. Current and projected status of physical resources

The first step EIA is to analyze the current status of physical resources in the study area and the potential impact on them. The physical resources we researched include climate, soil, and water.

A. Current status

The climate is already being affected by the land use at Lancer Park. Currently, there are apartment buildings and roads that create an urban heat island. Urban heat islands are further discussed in the next section, as they are expected to be even stronger due to the construction of more roads and buildings. Figure 2 shows the current heat production by anthropogenic surfaces at Lancer Park as seen by a thermal imaging camera in March 2012.

Figure 2. Roads and built surfaces at Lancer Park are giving off heat (as shown by the brighter colors), showing the effect of urbanization on climate. The grass and trees are naturally cooler (darker colors).

The water in the stream located in the northern end of Lancer Park (see Figure 1) is beginning to see some effects from human impact as well. A water sample taken in March 2012 shows good phosphate levels (2ppm), excellent nitrate levels (0ppm), excellent dissolved oxygen levels (92%), fair turbidity (20 JTU), and the presence of coliform bacteria. Overall, this is a fairly healthy report for the stream, outside of the turbidity and bacteria.

Soil samples were compared from two different locations in Lancer Park, one in the woodland area north of the construction, and the other near the current parking lot (Figure 3). Both soil samples had more than 200ppm of lead, adequate phosphorous levels, surplus potassium, and nitrogen depletion. The woodland soil proved slightly acidic (pH of 6.5), and the sample near the parking lot was found to be alkaline (pH of 7.5).

Figure 3. Soil samples from Lancer Park. One sample is from the woodland area (top) while the other sample is from near the parking lot (bottom).

B. Projected impacts

The projected impacts on the physical resources of Lancer Park include alterations to the current climate, soil, and water health of the area.

Water health

Runoff from both the construction and utilization of FCC will affect water quality.  Mahler et al. (2005) found that the sealcoat applied to parking lots every two to three years contains polycydic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs run off into the water and inhibit reproduction and delay the emergence of mammals. Additional impact on water health could include increased pollution from human litter, oil from cars, and an increase in the number of serious events such as sewage system failure.


The FCC will cause an increase in the urban heat island at Lancer Park. An urban heat island is the characteristic of a city that causes it to be warmer than surrounding areas. During construction of the FCC, there will be removal of vegetation, which will increase the urban heat island effect. Vegetation provides shade and reduces urban heat release by trapping moisture in itself as well as the soil (Arrau and Peña, 2011). There will also be a general increase in albedo as more of the environment becomes built and paved. The albedo of asphalt is 0.04, versus the 0.25 albedo of grass. This means that asphalt absorbs 21% more of the sun’s energy than grass, which is more reflective. More absorption of the energy will cause an increase in temperature.


The soil will likely be impacted by the new construction. Overuse of land creates surface compaction, decreasing the amount of silt and clay in soil. Land-use commonly deteriorates the quality of the soil, up to 44% in some areas (Islam and Weil, 2000). Removal of vegetation will increase soil erosion and lessen nutrients from organic debris.

3. Current and projected human use values

Next, we assess the human use values of the area as they are currently, and how we anticipate the FCC will affect them. The human use values include the recreational use of the area, living space, and employment.

A. Current status

Much of the area in Lancer Park is currently used for recreation. This includes the baseball field, the turf field, disc golf, and several trails in the woodland area. The club sports teams use the baseball and turf fields to practice as well as for games. Other students are also allowed to use the fields for recreational use with their friends. Club teams that use Lancer Park include soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and rugby. There are also parking lots for the sports fields and residents.

Living space is obviously a large use of Lancer Park as well. Longwood Students live in the apartments available for housing in Lancer Park. In 2010, a pedestrian bridge was built to give residents easy access to campus. While there are currently more apartments being built, we are proposing to use that area for the FCC, instead.

Currently there are only a few jobs at Lancer Park, and most of them are jobs that would be at Longwood regardless of the existence of Lancer Park.

B. Projected impacts

The level of recreation will decrease in relation to sports activities because both the turf field and baseball field will be eliminated, but it will increase entertainment for residents of the Farmville area, including Longwood University students. The FCC will create a safe, enclosed environment for college students around the area, but students will have to look elsewhere for physical fitness.

The FCC will increase parking due to added parking lots. When there is an event, however, the residents of Lancer Park will have trouble finding parking. Events will cause an increase in traffic in the Lancer Park area. People around the area of Lancer Park will also be affected by the noise pollution produced by the FCC.  This may cause a decrease in sleep and an increase in frustration, resulting in more stress and perhaps lower grades. The residents of Lancer Park will also be affected by additional litter from the FCC, including increased cigarette trash as well as copious amounts of plastic and paper trash.

4. Current and projected status of ecological resources

Next, we looked at the current and future status of the ecological resources at Lancer Park. This includes the impact of the construction on species diversity, and the plants and animals in the study area.

A. Current status

First, we evaluated the current status of the ecological resources at Lancer Park. The developed area already contains a lot of concrete and housing, as well as small areas of aesthetically pleasing shrubbery. These small areas contain little vegetation and a depleted bug population. A biodiversity study was performed in order to compare a 10×10 foot area of the woodland versus near the parking lot. The different types of vegetation were counted in the area, as well as the number of insects seen within five minutes. The more natural woodland area is fairly large and dappled with various different types of vegetation throughout. The woodland is also home to more insects. The woodland area contained 25 total trees and 17 insects during the study period. This included 4 different insect species and 7 different plant species. The developed area near the parking lot contained 10 trees and 12 insects, 4 different species of each. This small study begins to show that the area of Lancer Park that is not as developed has a larger number of plant and animal species and individuals.

B.  Projected impacts
Aquatic Biology

Next, we assessed the potential environmental impact that building FCC could have on Lancer Park. The first area that we assessed was the aquatic biology. Our research included a study that indicated “extensive use of bulldozers on steep slopes for road building and in-stream channels during debris removal caused excessive streambed sedimentation in narrow streams” (Burns, 1972). The adversities to the fish due to this increase in sedimentation would vary by species, as sediment sensitivity varies with size, morphology, and behavior (Brusven and Mcclelland and Brusven, 1980). Also, the temperature of the water will rise with the absence of trees to catch sunlight. The bugs may grow bigger and multiply more frequently, which would allow for the fish to eat more and populate as well.  Logging has also been proven to increase stream flow in the summertime, which would allow a higher number of fish to coexist. In one study, some populations of fish suffered as well, with a decrease of 85% in young of the year in steelhead trout populations and an 84% decrease in steelheads over a year old, accumulating to an 82% decrease overall (Burns, 1972).


The construction of the stadium could also potentially affect the bird population of Lancer Park. Currently, there is construction to expand the student apartments. The construction, while necessary for Longwood’s expansion, is impacting the natural world.  A killdeer has nested in the gravel on the construction site, in the way of the workers (Figure 4). In order to continue construction, the workers will have to either move the nest, which will disturb and/or incidentally destroy the un-hatched eggs, or simply destroy the nest where it stands. Our research also concluded that the breeding potential of birds in the area will be affected, as male-female bird bonding has been known to be complicated by environmental noise (Swaddle, 2007). This would cause a decline in the population and overall biodiversity over time.

Figure 4. A killdeer has nested in the construction gravel at Lancer Park.


Finally, we assessed how the vegetation of the area could be affected by our construction. Biodiversity would decrease because trees would have to be cleared in order to construct the FCC. Many areas of rich biodiversity would be replaced with low biodiversity similar to the current apartment complex. This can further impact the status of insects and other animals in the area.

5. Current and projected quality of life values

In this section of an EIA, the quality of life values are analyzed. Here, we briefly discuss the current quality of life in Lancer Park, and the projected impacts of building the FCC. This includes how the FCC will impact public safety, the culture of the area, the aesthetics and the economy.

A. Current status

Lancer Park currently houses 258 Longwood students in an apartment/townhouse complex. The buildings are plain and unaesthetic. The townhouses are squat, two-level structures and the area is dominated by parking. A beautification attempt has been made on the grounds. Shrubs and trees have been planted in the common areas that are clearly regularly landscaped. To the west, a large construction project is underway for new housing, currently marring the scenery. Beyond the occasional public intoxication arrest, public safety is not a great concern and campus police regularly patrol the area.

B.  Projected impacts
Public Safety

We have concluded that the FCC will impact the Farmville community in a number of ways, both harmful and beneficial. The stadium could be a threat to public safety. It would increase noise pollution in the area, which would be harmful to the residents’ overall health. Studies have shown that exposure to loud music can lead to tinnitus, or hearing loss (Chung et al., 2005). To prevent permanent impairment, it would be beneficial for residents to use noise-cancelling earplugs, which many residents might find to be a nuisance. It could also cause sleep deprivation for Lancer Park residents, many of which already suffer from limited hours of sleep.

The development also contains many sports fields. The loss of recreational activities for Farmville’s youth could lead to an increase in the crime rate. Our research indicates that communities with recreational activities for children have decreased rates of drug and alcohol abuse (California State Parks, 2005). The most immediate consequence would be the increased foot traffic, which could also raise the crime rate.

Cultural impacts

The cultural impact of the FCC appears to be positive. Music has been shown to improve people’s general outlook on life. It enhances quality of life by improving a person’s social relationships, environment, and even their physical well-being (Coffman, 2002). It is also valuable in building a stronger Longwood community. Studies show that people with a diverse taste in music will seek out others with similar preferences (Kruse, 1994). This connection would create a sense of cohesion throughout the different groups on campus.


Aesthetically, the area would most likely suffer. The FCC would increase the influx of out-of-towners, with the likely creation of a parking overspill. The added visitors would also increase the litter in the area. Trash such as broken bottles and small pieces of plastic could be hazardous for small children and pets. However, if enough care is taken with the appearance of the FCC, then it could improve the overall aesthetic value of the area.

Economic impacts

The economic impact would be mostly non-existent to the Farmville community.  Currently, the unemployment rate in Farmville is above average at 19.1% (Citydata.com).  The introduction of the FCC would create some low wage jobs mostly pertaining to landscaping, security, and food service. However, in a study by Robert Baade, findings show that stadiums rarely introduce either positive or negative economic benefit to their surrounding community. In fact, Baade suggested that in 36 cities he studied from 1958-1967, over 60% of the stadiums tended “to push rates of economic growth below the average” (Jones et al., 2007).

6. Impact reduction and monitoring

The FCC will be joining a movement sweeping throughout the entertainment industry. Locally, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, a busy summer spot in Northern Virginia, is attempting to become “a zero waste organization and carbon neutral” by transitioning to high-efficiency vehicles and alternative fuel, becoming paperless, and buying wind credits in addition to their previous efforts at using biodegradable products and subsidizing public transportation.

A number of tactics need to be adapted in order to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of the FCC. A stadium will incur a large carbon footprint. In order to offset the negative impact, the stadium can focus on using green energy sources or purchase carbon offsets for energy used. Generators and vehicles used on behalf of the stadium can use biodiesel. On-site recycling in conjunction with biodegradable food service materials are an important element in keeping the stadium as green as possible and any compostable refuse can be sent to local farms for use.

It is important that the FCC maintains or improves the local area’s landscape.  By hiring a local botanist, a diverse group of local plant species can be planted around the buildings, which will maintain biodiversity, decrease the runoff from the increased parking, and help aesthetics. Native plant species need less water during planting and the stadium can use high-efficiency irrigation systems with a 95% efficiency rate compared to the 60% efficiency rated irrigation systems. Optimally, this can save 700,000 gallons of water every year. Porous pavement can be used to manage the increased run-off from the additional parking and walkways. Porous pavement consists of crushed granite stone material instead of plantings or concrete medians. It allows rainwater to recharge groundwater and reduces the amount of storm water that flows into the surrounding environment (MetLifestadium.com).

The impact of the construction and use of the FCC on Lancer Park residents must be constantly evaluated. We suggest noise ordinances, such as only weekend concerts during the school year, in order to avoid sleep deprivation on weeknights for college students. Complimentary earplugs should be provided to drown out the noise pollution when the students need to concentrate. It is also suggested that public safety officials be placed on duty during times of FCC usage, insuring the safety of the college students. These officers can also be in charge of litter control and have the ability to fine people that do not follow the rules. This will assist in maintaining an environmentally friendly production. The concerns of residents should be continually assessed and addressed to reduce any negative impact on their lives.

7. Summary and Conclusions

This project used an EIA in order to evaluate the impact of building a concert hall (FCC) at Lancer Park in Farmville, Virginia. The EIA evaluated the FCC’s impact in four different areas: physical resources, ecological resources, human use values and quality of life values. For each area, the current status of Lancer Park was assessed, and then the probable impacts of the FCC were discussed based on other research.

The current use of Lancer Park mainly includes living facilities and physical recreation. It is obvious that the area is already being impacted by the presence of people and the built environment. A thermal image of the area shows the heat production of the apartment complexes. The species diversity of the area is decreased near the apartments as well. There are currently few jobs at Lancer Park.

The building of the FCC will have an inconsequential economic effect on the area and will likely have some negative impact on the human and natural environments. The soil, water, and air are sure to be polluted with the presence of more people. This will affect Lancer Park residents, as well as the natural environment. In general, the ecological and physical impact will likely be an increase of the current impact by Lancer Park. Some individual organisms will be more affected, such as the killdeer as shown in Figure 4.  However, the positive cultural impacts that it can serve cannot be negated. This development could lead to a higher sense of community bonds and socialization.

It is our conclusion that the most impacted areas from the construction and utilization of the FCC on North Campus are likely the human-use values and quality of life values resulting from the influx of concert-goers and new buildings. The lives of Lancer Park residents will be severely impacted, as discussed through much of this manuscript. It is important to consider the impact reduction suggestions in Section 6 in order to make the impact of the FCC more positive on the environment. If the correct impact reduction techniques are used, the area will benefit from the cultural impact of FCC.

8. Works Cited

Arrau and Pena, 2011: Urban Heat Islands. Available online at: urbanheatislands.com

Bale, 1990: In the shadow of the stadium: football grounds as urban nuisances. Geography, 75, 325-334.

Burns, 1972: Some effects of logging and associated road construction on northern California streams. Trans. Of Am. Fisheries Soc., 101, 1-17.

California State Parks, 2005: The health and social benefits of recreation. Available online at: www.parks.ca/gov

Chung, Des Roches, Meunier, and Eavey, 2005: Evaluation of noise-induced hearing loss in young people using a web-based survey technique. Am Acad Pediatrics. 115, 861-867.

Coffman, 2002: Music and quality of life in older adults. Psychomusicology, 18, 76-88.

Islam and Weil, 2000: Land use effects on soil quality in a forest ecosystem of Bangladesh. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 79, 9-16.

Kruse, 1993: Subcultural identity in alternative music culture. Popular Music, 12, 33-41.

Mcclelland and Brusven, 1980: Effects of sedimentation on the behavior and distribution of riffle insects in a laboratory stream. Aquatic Insects, 2, 161-169.

Oke, 1987: Boundary Layer Climates. Cambridge University Press.

Swaddle, 2007: High levels of environmental noise erode pair preferences in zebra finches. Animal Behaviour, 74, 363-368.

Additional information was gathered from Citydata.com and Metlifestadium.com

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