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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Armory Management Seeking Grant For Facility Upgrades In Response To Noise Study and Abutter Complaints

Arts At The Armory
The Committee on Public Health and Public Safety, once again, featured the management from the Armory (191 Highland Avenue) and an abutter to the venue to discuss noise complaints stemming from events held in the main function hall.

According to Armory representatives, the facility has laid out a three-part plan to assure that they are in full compliance with Somerville’s noise ordinance:
1.) Monitoring Sound: Readings are taken from different points around the perimeter of the building to ensure that they are not above city ordinance maximums.
2.) Programming Changes: All parties that rent the venue are made aware of the noise restrictions. All music events in the cafe are acoustic with drumming and amplified bass prohibited. (i.e. classical music, acoustic guitar, jazz). Also, sweeps of the parking lot are made within 30 minutes of an event ending to ensure that people are not in the parking lot after the Armory has closed for the evening.
3.) Sound Insulation: Heavy curtains, door sweeps, elevated speakers and plywood have been implemented to keep sound within the building.

Aldermans White and
 One abutter, however, explained that the proximity of the main event hall to the second floor of his home is not included in the decibal readings that the Somerville Police Department has taken and that the Police have been called numerous times despite a report from Police Chief Pasquerello that the system shows no noise complaints since 2010. An invitation to Armory personnel to take a reading from this home was given, however, Alderman Sean O'Donovan felt it best that a reading be coordinated through the Somerville Police Department and not just through the two parties involved. The abutter also noted that this only happens with certain events and does not happen often with Armory Management counter-inviting him to call the facility whenever noise levels are too high, so they may make adjustments internally.

Recently, David Coate, of David Coate Consulting, made several recommendations to the Armory board of directors in an 8 page report that included adding ¼” laminated glass over existing glass and sealing off window edges to prevent air gaps with concrete grout to improve sound isolation. This report was presented to the Committee on September 20th.

In response to the recommendations, Armory Management announced that they would be seeking a $480,000 grant, along with matching funds, to upgrade the lighting and sound system, as well as, make necessary changes to the facility to further prevent noise from permeating the walls and windows of the facility. News on the issue of the grant will be made in the fall and, if received, the work would commence before the end of 2011.

This issue will remain in committee.

Corresponding Legislation:
· Legislative File #189248; Submitted by Alderman Sean O'Donovan: Discuss in Committee That This Board’s Subcommittee on Public Health and Public Safety Invite the Owner(S) of the Armory Building to a Meeting to Discuss Their Inability to Contain Noise During Performances. (See video of order adoption. Item #8)

· Legislative File #190149; Submitted by Alderman At Large William A. White Jr.: Discuss in Committee That the Clerk of Committees send a communication to the owner of the Armory, requesting that he provide the committee with a timeline for completing the work to abate the noise emanating from the building. (See video of order adoption. Item #45J).

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