City will ask USD to shut down air conditioning unit by David Lias Families who reside near The University of South Dakota Medical School can�t take it anymore.
The high-pitched whine emitted by an air conditioning unit installed in June 1998 at the medical school building on the west side of the 200 block of North Harvard Street has made life unbearable for people who live in the neighborhood.
Monday, residents appealed to the Vermillion City Council for help. The council agreed that, before enforcing the city�s noise ordinance, it would ask USD to voluntarily shut off the unit until it gets the noise problem fixed.
According to a petition presented to the council by affected families, decibel readings have been monitored at between 61 and 68 decibels, and a recent reading by the police department registered 57 decibels.
According to the petition, the World Health Organization guidelines recommend that night-time average levels of noise suitable for undisturbed sleep ranges from 35 down to 30 decibels. The guidelines also include a peak night-time maximum of 45 decibels.
The air conditioner unit has made life miserable at the Carl and Ellen Baranowski home, located at 221 N. Harvard Street.
�We live at our house, and I teach at our house, and I have a special needs child at our house who has a hearing problem, and in trying to work with the hearing problem last summer, when this noise happens,� Baranowski said, �there is a high-pitched squeal coming from the new air compressor across the street over at the medical school.
�It permeates our homes,� she added, noting that the sound�s pitch is higher on the upper floors of her home, where the bedrooms are located.
The pitch of the sound is about the same as a school bell, and is very piercing.
�It is 24 hours a day,� Baranowski said. �We have tried to mask it with fans and with music. It has still caused my child failure to thrive last summer while the university was working on this.
�I feel we have given them more than enough time,� she added. Baranowski wanted to bring her children to the city council meeting, but four of them are ill.
�We have been very ill, and we�ve been suffering with headaches,� she said. Baranowski added that her hearing-impaired child is now refusing to wear his hearing aid as the weather grows warmer and the unit constantly is in operation.
She said that the family has worked hard to restore their beautiful home. They had hopes that it would be an enjoyable place for not only the family, but for their friends.
�I had hoped to sit on my front porch and watch Vermillion happen, because it�s a beautiful place,� Baranowski said. �And our home is a beautiful place. But nobody wants to come there now, because it hurts to sit out on our front porch.�