- Grove City, Pennsylvania

August 1, 2012

Noises set off residents

Sirens wail, transformers hum, folks moan

By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — Some residents think Grove City is too noisy.

James "Patch" McClelland, of 611 Lincoln Ave. - whose property also borders Forest and Bessemer streets - spoke to council on Monday about a neighborhood emergency alarm on Forest that's been a nuisance for decades.

"I see no need for a siren in a neighborhood where children are terrified and it causes the elderly to feel our cranial bones and internal organs vibrate," he said.

The siren is situated on pole in the yard of his neighbor across the street, Richard Dunn, who "already has hearing aides," said McClelland, who has lived with the noise for 28 years.

The siren sounds off to notify firefighters of a fire in the area, and also acts as a severe weather alert. A siren exists in each of the borough's five wards, and one is on the property of Grove City College.

McClelland was formerly a commercial pilot who was away from home 17 days out of the month, but is now retired and aging - and the noise is getting to him.

Monday was the third time he's tried to address the problem in various ways over the years, he noted.

The alarm used to go through eight cycles lasting about 30 to 45 seconds each - "that sounded like forever" - but after talking to fire Chief Jeff Badger a few years back, that was cut to four cycles, McClelland said.

However, the noise continues to be too loud and teeth-shattering, especially for a residential neighborhood, he noted.

Unlike in the old days, firefighters have pagers and home alarms to notify them of fires, McClelland said. "Why subject residents to this day and night?"

The alarm is supposed to be on a tall industrial building in town, not in a residential community, McClelland said. He believed it could be put on a high pole in an area such as Cooper Industrial Commons on Lincoln or above the police station on Pine Street - where firefighters store trucks, and plan to build a station - to help diminish the impact of the noise on residents.

Councilman Joel Bigley agreed that a better place could be found for the alarm, which he can hear from his porch on Terrace Avenue.

"We don't need to know there's a vehicle fire on Jackson at 2:30 in the morning," McClelland added. However, council vice-president Jeff Black said he may want to know if there's a fire next door.

Council member Jeff Hodge said pagers make it easier for today's firefighters to be alerted of an emergency, but he doesn't hear his if he's mowing the lawn. However, he will hear the siren, he added.

McClelland believes there has to be some better solution, however.

Polk, where he grew up, has its siren in the middle of town on a high pole, which isn't as menacing as the one across from his house, he said. "In Europe, they have a blue and white light on a post (and the alarm) sounds like a horn. It's not as earth-shattering," nor reminiscent of World War II alarms, he added after the meeting,

Council will investigate ways to reduce the siren noise in McClelland's neighborhood through its Police and Fire Committee.

Neighbors around Park Avenue have also been complaining of the noise coming from a new transformer at the electric plant, said Vance Oakes, borough manager.

"I wouldn't say it's loud, but it's humming and buzzing 24-7 and that's more of an annoyance," he said.

"It's above acceptable noise standards," added solicitor Tim Bonner, who drove to the neighborhood and could hear it "from distances where people were complaining."

"I wouldn't want to live there," Bonner said.

Bigley added that the older transformer was much quieter.

Oakes spoke to Garland Construction of Polk, which is working on renovations at the former Girl Scout lodge at Grove City Memorial Park.

The company said a three-sided wall could be erected around the transformer to block the noise for around $6,000, compared to acoustic fences and obstacles that can cost around $40,000.

Council approved Oakes to take phone bids for the project to build the wall.

Published July 21, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.