HVAC Makes for ‘Sleepless’ on Gould Street

New heating and cooling units on the roof of East Hampton High School may be rated quiet enough for residential areas, but Gould Street neighbors within earshot brought their noise concerns to the school board on Dec. 20. Morgan McGivern

    “I’m at my wits’ end,” said Mary Laspia, a Gould Street neighbor of East Hampton High School, who spoke up during the East Hampton School Board meeting on Dec. 20. She was referring to the noise from the new heating and air-conditioning units on the roof of the school, which are rated for a residential neighborhood, but, according to Ms. Laspia, have a bunch of residents up in arms.
    Representing a group of Gould Street residents who “have a problem with the facilities,” Ms. Laspia read from a letter she had composed about “excessive loud noise emanating from the heating-cooling unit on the roof.”
    “Several Gould street residents agree that the units in use are not appropriate for a residential area,” she said. “However, I have looked up the system specifications and it states that it is a quiet system used in residential areas. Therefore, either the manufacturer misrepresented itself or the unit is defective.”
    “In either case,” she continued, “it is up to the architect or contractor to replace the unit or eliminate the noise so that it meets the needs of the area. We are here today to have the board look into this problem and find a solution.”
    The sound, Ms. Laspia said, is “a loud, droning noise that wakes you up,” and is worst on the cul-de-sacs off Gould Street that are closer to the school — Irma, Sally, and Lynda Courts.
    She described “sleepless nights and tortured days” as the sound traveled across the field behind the school and reverberated in her house, and she said she forgoes opening her windows on breezy summer nights.
    She said she had contacted school administrators, namely Eric Woellhof, the district’s director of facilities, Raymond Gualtieri, the district’s former superintendent, and Adam Fine, the high school principal.
    She referred to the “inept design” of the new units and claimed that “there was never a problem with the old building, and it needs to be rectified.”
    She told the board that she has been attempting to get answers since April, and had made contact several times with Mr. Woellhof, who once came over to her house to listen to the noise himself. However, no steps had been taken.
    Ms. Laspia added that she had been told that the noise would get better during the fall, but with the falling of the leaves, which decreased an acoustic barrier, the noise has only gotten worse.
    “We have to do something right away,” said Alison Anderson, a board member. “We need to act on this immediately.”
    “This is the first we’ve heard about this,” said Laura Anker Grossman, the school board president.
    The next school board meeting is on Tuesday, and the board told Ms. Laspia that the agenda would include a report from the architect, if possible.