From her living room, Christina Ferraro will still be able to admire the lights of landing jets across the street at Tweed-New Haven Airport, but she may no longer hear the rumble of their engines.
Ferraro (pictured), a reading teacher at Nathan Hale School, lives in one of about 185 houses in a 65-decibel-plus zone around New Haven’s airport in the East Shore. That means she and her family are subjected to the brunt of take-off and landing noise as planes arrive and depart.
The airport recently finished a federally funded study to determine the boundaries of the high-noise zone. The next step in the airport’s ongoing noise mitigation efforts is to assess houses in the zone for the possibility of noise-insulation improvements, also paid for by the federal government.
If the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to pay for new soundproof windows, she’ll take them, Ferraro said. But, she said, she’s gotten so used to the noise of planes nearby that she hardly notices it anymore, a sentiment several of her neighbors share.
About a year and a half ago, said Tim Larson, executive director of the Tweed airport authority, the airport started a study of airport noise, funded by the FAA.
“For about a year, we evaluated the impact of noise from the the airport out into the community,” Larson said. “We evaluated all the current and potential equipment that comes and goes from the airport.”
The airport created a “contour map” showing the rings around the airport where noise could reach 65- and 70-decibel levels. (Scroll down to see it.) Homes within the 65-decibel range are eligible for assessment and assistance with noise insulation for their homes.
“An engineer goes out to and tests your house for noise penetration,” Larson said. The engineer then makes recommendations about what kind of improvements could be made. That might include new windows, new doors, insulation, and heating and air conditioning, “because if you have a tight [noise-proof] building, you need to ventilate it.”
The airport last week hired an engineer to do the testing.
Once all the evaluations are done, the airport will apply for another round of funding to make the recommended improvements, Larson said. The airport has contracted New Haven’s minority-owned Tri-Con to supervise the home improvements.
FAA May Buy Homes
People living in the 70-decibel range are eligible to have their homes purchased by the FAA.
“About a month ago, we sent out a letter,” Tim Larson. The airport notified 185 homeowners that they are in the 65- or 75-decibel ring and eligible for noise reduction help.
About 130 people responded, Larson said. Many are interested in noise-reduction improvements. One elderly woman is interested in selling her house, not because of noise, but because of her advanced age, Larson said.
Among neighbors recently interviewed, however, noise didn’t seem to be the main problem, except for a woman who said she lives just outside the qualifying 65-decibel zone.
Yolanda Skerritt, who lives on Stuyvesant Avenue, said she’s not bothered by the noise. She got new windows not long ago and they do a good job of keeping the noise down, she said.
The bigger problem, according to Skerritt, is fumes. Planes idle near the airport terminal across the street and the jet-fuel fumes waft across to her property, she said. “That’s what I always call about.”
“You tend not to notice the noise,” she said. “But you smell the fumes.”
Skerritt said she new what she was getting into, noise-wise, when she bought a house near the airport in 1994. “Noise is noise. You’re going to have it.”
“The planes? Forget about it,” said an 88-year-old neighbor who declined to give his name. “I’m used to it.”
He said he’s been living across from the airport since 1961, when he bought his house for $13,000. He said whether or not he hears anything depends on the direction of the wind.
As for the opportunity to make his home more soundproof: “I don’t need anything.” He said he won’t take the feds up on their offer.
Jessica Ferraro, Diana’s 22-year-old daughter, said she doesn’t even notice plane noise any longer. “We’ve been living here so long.”
Diana said the family moved to their home near the airport 14 years ago.
“It’s beautiful at night,” she said. She likes watching the planes take off and land after the sun sets.
Like Diana, neighbor Frank Carreno said he doesn’t mind the noise, but wouldn’t say no to some new windows.
Ms. Forjoine, a neighbor down the street who declined to give her first name, said she is bothered by the sound, particularly when jets idle, waiting to takeoff right across the street from her house. “That’s what’s annoying.”
But, Forjoine said, she’s just outside of the 65-decibel zone. “They stopped a block away.”
Forjoine said she thinks the study wasn’t done right, that the people who did it didn’t put their sensors in the right locations. “That’s my only gripe.”
Forjoine said she keeps her windows closed at all times to keep the noise out. “Good thing we have air conditioning.”