Westfield OKs $2.5 million grant for home acquisition

FILE: The panel at the noise mitigation meeting. From left to right: Richard Doucette, interim airport manager Adam Houghton, Jane Verbeck, Mel Bake, acoustical engineer manager Yuriy Gurovich, acoustical engineer Patrick Kester (The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The city has OKed the acceptance of a third grant to fund the continuing Noise Compatibility Program (NCP) near Barnes Regional Airport.

The grant, which is for about $2.5 million, will go toward the continuing acquisition of homes that were identified in the NCP, which was done by Wyle Acoustical Engineering. The grant was first approved by the city council two weeks ago, then by the city’s airport commission on July 14.

According to Jane Verbeck, program manager for Wyle, the money will be used only for acquisition at this time.

“The grant is strictly for acquisition,” she said. “For this grant, between eight to 10 homes.”

The grant is the third such grant that the city has received for the NCP. Each grant has totaled about $2.5 million Verbeck said, and are made up of 90 percent Federal Aviation Administration funds, five percent city funds and five percent Massachusetts Department of Transportation funds.

Verbeck said that the homes for this grant are in the Holyoke Road area, toward the end of one of the runways on the airport. However, homeowners have not yet been notified.

“I would say by early fall the homeowners would be notified,” Verbeck said.

The homes are a portion of the 25 total that have been identified for acquisition according to the NCP. These homes are identified for acquisition through a noise contour map, “which is based on mathematical contours from the variety of noise-making vehicles on and around the airport rather than measured decibel levels, to determine what homes are at risk for noise pollution,” according to a January 2017 article in The Westfield News. The result of this is called the day-night level (DNL), which is an average decibel level with additional factors included.

Homes in a contour of impact with DNL levels of 65 or over are the ones selected for acquisition. This would mean that if the homeowner agrees, then the home would be purchased from them, comparable housing would be found and the home in the contour of impact would then be demolished.

As for homes that are below the 65 DNL, those owners have the option of sound insulation, which includes new windows, doors, roofs and central air conditioning units being installed. However, this is not expected to be done until the home acquisition portion is finished.

Verbeck said that so far one home has been acquired and five have been appraised since the NCP was approved in mid-June. The next step for those appraised homes is for a review appraisal, Verbeck said, and once that is received offers will be made. From there, she said that they would then move onto the next five homes.