NEW YORK — MOST New Yorkers have never heard of Thomas Faye. But they are hearing a little easier because of him. Dr. Faye, a hearing specialist at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center here, led an effort in the early '70s that altered the sound of sirens on the city's streets. Police sirens and the like used to be a raucous yowl. Now they are more melodious, if no less arresting. ``It literally changed the sound of the city,'' he says.
Faye was less successful with auto horns. New York City drivers often use horns as assualt weapons, and Faye wanted to eliminate the grating edge. The majority leader of the city council at the time had a General Motors supplier in his district, however, and the idea went no further.
Faye used to be a member of the city's Environmental Control Board, and in that capacity he was - and remains - a critic of the noise control laws. The basic problem is that fines are too low, he says. A fine of $2,000 for a big night club is just a ``trivial nuisance.''
``The fine structure has to be revised massively,'' he says, in words that many New Yorkers, kept awake by thumping discos until 3 a.m., will cheer. ``We have to hit them where it hurts them.''