About 25 Westfield residents came to the Fire Station last night to discuss the city's plans to reduce noise from the Dingwall Horan Joint Training Facility, which both the Police Department and the FBI use for firearms training. Mayor Dan Drew, and Councilmen Tom Serra and Todd Berch promised those assembled that the city would provide funding for alterations to the facility to reduce the noise.
The Training Facility was built in 1982 on the shore of the lower of two city reservoirs at the base of Mt. Higby in Westfield. For 27 years there were few, if any, complaints about noise, this changed after about 2009. This was when the FBI paid $250,000 to upgrade the facility, building a small building to serve as a classroom, as well as very modestly expanding the length and width of the shooting range.
Captain Moriarty and Sergeant Fuchs, the former and current shooting instructors, said that they suspect that something about the FBI upgrade caused the noise to travel into the neighborhoods. The city has hired an engineering firm, AI Engineering, to determine the cause of the noise increase, and to determine the feasibility of reducing it. The engineering firm has retained Bennett Brooks, of Brooks Accoustics, to help with the noise analysis.
Drew expressed optimism that the AI Engineering feasibility study would find the answer to why Westfield "sounds like Beirut or Baghdad." When the study is complete, Drew said the information would be shared with the public in an open forum at the Westfield Fire Station, as well as in meetings of the Public Safety Commission.
The Common Council can approve bonding of up to $750,000 without holding a referendum, and the three elected officials all agreed to support funding for the noise abatement up to that level. Mayor Drew said that he would ask the FBI to contribute additional money towards the cost of any changes to the facility.