$130,000 so far, more likely to come:
City Pays For Wareham Development's Building Mistake
The city council took testimony from an aggrieved resident neighbor and a representative of Wareham Development Corporation as to the ongoing attempts to mitigate noisy machinery on the roof of one of the developer's buildings on Tuesday. The building, located along Hollis Street north of Powell Street and dubbed Emery Station East by Wareham, was built with loud machinery on its roof from laboratory use, the building's primary function, and has been the source of much consternation among residents of 'Elevation 22', a condo project located across Hollis Street. The city paid Wareham $130,000 in May, half the cost to build a roof screen 'sound wall' that was recently constructed to help mitigate the problem. Wareham for its part paid for half the cost of construction of the wall. The city might make further payments in the future but the council took no specific action Tuesday.
Emery Station East
The council agreed in 2009, to pay up to $300,000 to Wareham to offset problems with the sound from the machinery after neighbors from Elevation 22 mounted a campaign against Wareham. An additional $170,000 of public money will be held in reserve if more sound mitigation is needed. The city has continued to receive noise complaints from neighbors after the sound wall has been completed raising the likely hood that Wareham will be the beneficiary of more of the public money.
On Tuesday, the Wareham representitive opined that the ongoing noise, after the completion of the soundwall is ambient background freeway sound and not attributable to Emery Station East. The Elevation 22 resident disagreed, "We did not have this noise issue before Emery Station East was built. Had we known all this was coming, we would never have moved there" he said. For the record, Elevation 22 was built in 2004 and Emery Station East was built in 2007.
To those who might wonder why the city should be expected to pay for Wareham's loud machinery, the city staff reported that the financial assistance to Wareham, a San Rafael based developer, was required because of the "close proximity of residential development to laboratory uses in the building".
This is not the first time Wareham has gotten into hot water with residents. Over the years the developer has cut a swath of bad building practises, netting much resident wrath. Several years ago the developer settled a lawsuit after a protracted fight for the leaking and shoddy workmanship of its condo development known as the Terraces next to the Amtrak station. Two Wareham commercial development projects across Horton Street from Amtrak were approved without adequate delivery truck parking resulting in an ongoing problem with trucks blocking the bike lane along Horton. The Bike/Pedestrian Committee has made formal complaints to the city of poor planning by Wareham in response to the dangerous condition.
Critics have complained that the city has lavished millions of undeserved taxpayer dollars in subsidies on Wareham for its development over the years. In February, the council approved a large and controversial Wareham development project, the 'Transit Center" north of Amtrak and has agreed to pay Wareham $3 million in subsidies for the project.
For its part, the city staff chastised the Elevation 22 residential neighbors in a report to the council about the noise from Emery Station East claiming, "It should be noted that this is a mixed use area and noise conflicts will always be a concern to those who choose to live in such areas". Council member Nora Davis agreed and dismissed the complaints from Elevation 22, "This is big city living" she reprimanded.
Neighbors claim that it is clear Wareham didn't accurately calculate the noise profile from their machinery and they failed to properly plan for sound attenuation from the beginning and so now the taxpayers are stuck fixing the problem.