Dear Watertown News editor,
I’m writing to ensure that you, and your readers, are aware of an issue at Watertown’s border. Industrial noise pollution is dominating the Charles River and the residential neighborhoods it borders. Those of us most affected have formed an association and reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection seeking immediate help in ensuring the installation of noise-mitigation devices such as sound blankets and fan silencers.
The corridor of Pleasant Street along the Charles River has seen an expansion of noise-generating ventilation fans, chillers and evaporators among the commercial buildings directly on the Charles River. The businesses that directly border the Charles River and regularly generate noise include Griffith Properties, 580 Pleasant Street; Charles River Automotive, 594 Pleasant Street; and Arranta Bio/ReciBio, 650 Pleasant Street. Additional noise may be contributed by an ice rink in that area and other businesses as well.
Although the noise is generated in Watertown, it must also be measured in Newton, including at the level of the second floor, where the sound carries sufficiently to destroy pre-existing levels of sleep, quality of life and property values.
The decibel levels are beyond the tolerated levels as defined in the Watertown town noise ordinance, the Newton town noise ordinance and 310 CMR 7.10. In addition to the disruption of our sleep, daily life and wellbeing, the noise dominates the experience of the many people on the Charles River Greenway (advertised as ‘a heart-healthy trail’) not to mention the unknown impact to the rich assortment of wildlife which uses this corridor to hunt, breed and migrate.
Over the past year, we have repeatedly worked to address the noise issues with numerous stakeholders, including building owners, tenants, building fan installers, the Watertown town manager and the Watertown Board of Health, but the noise persists. We’ve worked directly with our state representative, our Newton city councilors, and the Watertown city council. Despite our yearlong efforts, participation from some of our elected officials, and our persistent outreach there has been a stunning lack of change in the noise level in the residential neighborhood along the Charles River in which these commercial entities have established their presence.
I understand that a letter from Newton might be unexpected, but the challenge is that our cities share a border and neighborhoods, not to mention the tremendous resource that is the river and the greenway “heart-healthy” path. We need a unified voice and to work together to ensure that this recklessness is stopped.
Our health is at risk. New data shared in the New York Times this past June details how excessive noise takes years off of people’s lives by regularly inducing a cardiac response, even when in a rest state. We know that many solutions exist, from acoustic sound curtains, chiller blankets, mechanical adjustments, and the physical sound barriers that Watertown uses in many other locations; yet we apparently can’t compel an adjacent city to take the necessary action.
Please join us in demanding a change by November 30, 2023.
North Newtonville Neighborhood Association
(Submitted by Amy Kropke, John Oliver, Cedar Pruitt, Andrew Lichtman and Melissa Prudhomme on behalf of the North Newtonville Neighborhood Association)
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