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Are new BE sirens too loud?

By Staff | Oct 10, 2010

Dan Brod

How loud will three new sirens in Blue Earth be?

One city council member says the sound will be painful to nearby residents’ ears.

Dan Brod has brought up the issue several times in past meetings, and at last Monday’s regular council meeting, it was discussed again.

The City Council has already authorized the purchase of the three sirens at a cost of $33,758.53, and the order has been placed.

The three will replace the current five which are in place in the city.

At issue is an increase in decibel level of the three units. The city’s current sirens have a level of 126 decibels, while the new ones will go up to 128.

Brod told his fellow council members 120 decibels is considered painful to the human ear.

A representative of the siren company, Adam Green of Frontline Plus, Inc., says the decibel level is within state and federal standards.

He also says the decibel level falls off by six to 10 decibels at ground level, with in a short distance from the sirens.

It is a difference in the electronics inside the sirens that will increase the sound level. Green says the difference in the sound should not be very noticeable.

Two of the current siren positions will remain the same. The third will be moved to a new location on the land by the wastewater treatment plant.

Two siren locations will be taken down and not used. One, at the industrial park, is not currently operational, while another, on First Street, will no longer be needed. Both were much smaller than the new units.

In other business at the meeting, the City Council:

– Discussed adding crosswalk, parking and railroad crossing line painting to the 2011 budget.

Recently, crosswalk lines were painted near the Blue Earth Area Middle and Elementary Schools. The project was funded by a grant from the SHIP program.

Councilman John Huisman says he would like to see lines painted on the streets all over town.

City Public Works Director Dick LaMont says the streets have not been striped since 2004. It was put on hold due to budget issues and the fact that the manufacturers quit making lead based paint, and the new paint faded after only one season, he says.

LaMont estimates that there are 71 crosswalks that have been striped in the past.

“Plus, there are railroad crossings, parking stripes, handicapped parking spaces, and more,” LaMont told the council.

He estimated it could cost around $10,000 to do all of the striping necessary. He says there is a new type of paint being used, which does not fade as quickly.

Huisman suggested the council do all the striping on a three-year rotation basis – budgeting $3,000 each year for the work.