WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — In the midst of hearing ambitious plans to transform the Eldred Glen baseball facility into a state-of-the-art multisport center, township supervisors had a somewhat unrelated question for officials from Meadville Area Recreation Complex: Can they make the howling stop?
“There’s still some residents over there who say that they can’t stand the howling noises that come out of those chillers when they’re running,” Supervisor John Shartle said. “They’re expecting some answers.”
The “howling” Shartle referred to during the supervisors’ work session on Wednesday has been going on since about Aug. 27, the day the George S. DeArment Ice Arena opened for public skating this year — slightly earlier than in recent years.
The early opening was enabled in large part by the chiller Shartle mentioned — the $280,000 Trane aircooled helical rotary water chiller installed on the roof of the arena one year ago. The massive 200-ton capacity piece of equipment, which chills the water that forms the ice rink’s frozen surface, replaced the original ice-making equipment that had failed the previous winter and that had been housed within the arena for more than 40 years.
The rooftop location of the new equipment means that the “howling” sound produced when the chillers are running can be heard by some neighbors in the area, according to Shartle.
Also contributing to the situation, suggested Roger Gildea, who helped organize and oversee the installation of the chillers and was also part of the Eldred Glen presentation, is the earlier season start time for the ice rink allowed by the new equipment.
With rink time beginning a bit earlier in the year, neighbors are more likely to have their windows open or be outside when the chillers operate.
“The reason it’s so bothersome this time of year is because they run a lot more,” Gildea said. “Come January, those things aren’t going to run very often, so nobody’s going to hear the noise — and the windows aren’t open.”
Gildea said a buffer wall with sound-dampening insulation materials would be constructed around the chiller to deflect the sound that has proved so disturbing to neighbors on Alden Street.
“It really is a pretty simple solution,” Gildea told the supervisors. “It’s not going to take much to knock down that sound.”
Gildea said he hopes to have the project completed by mid- to late-October.
The level of annoyance created by the sound of the chillers was enough to cause some residents to raise the possibility of legal action, according to Shartle.
“These are people who have supported (the MARC) — and still do,” he said. “They just don’t want to hear the noise.”
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.