October 31, 2012

Wooden sound barrier studied for skatepark

As published in The Erin Advocate

The initial quote for a wooden barrier that could reduce the noise impact of Erin's new skatepark by about five decibels (dBA) has come in at $11,256.

Town councillors got a report last week on the sound study they had ordered, after noise complaints from area residents. Additional quotes will be obtained for the wall, which would be installed early next year, if approved by council at a future meeting.

Ramps at the park have already been enclosed and undercoated with padding to reduce noise, and the wall would provide additional protection.

"Is it worth the additional cost?" asked Mayor Lou Maieron, wondering whether skatepark users should be asked to do more fundraising. The park was originally projected to cost $100,000, and substantial fundraising was done, followed by reception of a $60,000 Trillium grant. So far, $146,000 has been spent.

The quote for a 10-foot high pressure-treated lumber wall, from Upper Grand Custom and Log Homes of Orton, includes 6"x6" posts, 2"x4" rails, and panels made from two overlapped layers of 1"x6" with staggered joints.

"A reasonable reduction is predicted throughout the residential area," said Engineer Nick McCabe, from the firm Howe Gastmeier Chapnik Limited. With a wall on the north and west sides, the predicted sound levels due to the skatepark ranged from 52 dBA at the closest home, to 45 and 47 dBA at other nearby homes to the north and south.

For maximum effectiveness, the wall should be close to the source of the noise, so it might have to replace some of the recently erected chain link fence, he said.

"The height of the wall should be sufficient to entirely screen the ramps from a direct line of sight from the upper storey windows of the surrounding houses," said McCabe.

 There had been discussion of trees as a sound barrier, but McCabe said 30 metres of dense bush would be required to make a difference.

Noise being reflected off the arena building is not a primary problem, but it could become more dominant in some areas once the direct noise is reduced.