Ad hoc committee begins work on NTC noise issues
On Tuesday May 27, the Mayor’s Ad hoc Committee met to address neighborhood concerns about noise coming from the Northcentral Technical College Public Safety Center of Excellence located in Merrill’s Industrial Park. The overwhelming complaint centered on the use of emergency vehicle sirens during training sessions at the facility, but also included complaints about squealing tires, the firing of blank rounds and the use of the PA system during training sessions. The hours of NTC’s training operation have also been an issue with area residents.
NTC was prepared to install a sound barrier wall similar to those seen along the interstate system to insulate adjoining neighborhoods from traffic noise. However, a sound study indicated that the wall would not be effective in this regard and recommended that trees be utilized to muffle sounds from the adjoining neighborhood. Subsequently NTC came up with a plan to plant 250 evergreen trees in multiple depth rows between the facility and the residential neighborhood to the south. After a recommendation at the Ad Hoc Committee meeting that the number of trees be increased, NTC stepped up and on May 28 notified the City that they would add an additional seventy 8’ evergreens. Planting of all the promised trees is currently underway.
NTC has also cut back their hours of operation and has made changes to their own emergency vehicles to muffle the sirens in order to be a good neighbor even though the sound study concluded that NTC was in compliance with Merrill’s noise ordinance. A subsequent written legal opinion from the City Attorney confirmed that NTC was in compliance with the City’s noise ordinance.
NTC’s Public Safety Center of Excellence is in Merrill because Merrill invited them to be here. The City Council expressed their support for NTC building in Merrill and the Merrill Area Development Corporation donated the land in the industrial park for NTC’s use. Many benefits accrue to Merrill through NTC’s presence in the community. Training sessions can run from one to five days and result in hotel stays, catered meal sales, restaurant sales, fuel sales, evening entertainment sales and support for other local businesses. Having an institution such as NTC in our community puts Merrill on the map and lends a bit of prestige to Merrill, their presence is a definite plus for this community. The fact that other area communities were vying for the privilege of locating NTC within their boundaries attests to the attractiveness of such an institution. NTC’s presence can also be a draw for other businesses to locate in Merrill, and make no mistake about it NTC is a business and needs to operate like a business. We, as a community, need to embrace and support NTC’s continued presence in Merrill.
At the May 27 meeting it was decided to convene again sometime in August to look at how efforts are progressing. Look for additional information to come forth after that meeting.