Government South Orange

Mystery ‘Whirring’ Sound Possibly Solved — Stop & Shop to Add Sound Barriers, Replace Lights

Photo courtesy of Essex County Place

Two threads on SOMA Lounge — the local Facebook group that is the source of all mysteries and the path to all resolutions in South Orange and Maplewood — have contained numerous reports of a loud, continuous, mechanical/electrical sound that’s been keeping Academy Heights neighbors in South Orange awake at nights.

“I live in the Academy Heights area of South Orange and for the last month have been hearing a loud whirring sound – like an engine or something – going ALL night. It’s loud enough that I can hear it through our closed windows. Does anyone know what this could be? I think it’s been subconsciously interrupting my sleep,” wrote the original poster. Others chimed in to verify that it wasn’t all in her head.

Hypotheses abounded: an idling train on the tracks? a generator behind Columbia High School? A light at Shop & Stop?

The third theory seems closest.

According to South Orange Village President Sheena Collum:

“Shortly after being contacted by residents of the Academy Heights Neighborhood Association, I spoke with our Administrator, Building Department and Health Inspector about the buzzing sound residents were hearing. Our Health Officer followed up immediately that night, has visited the location at several different times including late afternoon, where sound is masked by traffic, but also late into the night after 10 p.m. when the sound is more prominent. Stop and Shop and their Store Manager were contacted the next morning and HVAC technicians came out to the roof where it was determined that specifications for a sound barrier were necessary.

“There are approximately six fans on the roof. Yesterday, our Health Officer was with the General Manager and team of carpenters who began covering passive louvers. These louvers are at the north end of the building for the interior mechanical room. Today, they are back on the roof with the HVAC team. I sincerely apologize to residents for this inconvenience but the Village is taking all necessary steps to remedy this situation in partnership with Stop and Shop.

“The Store Manager noted that no new equipment was installed on the roof since they acquired the property in 2015 and has committed that this unfortunate situation will be rectified. Through this process of working with residents and the Village, he also replaced all the ballast in the parking lots and changed the bulbs to LED’s based off neighbor concerns that the sound may be related to the lights in the lot. ”

There you have it.

Village Green will be following up soon to find out if everyone is sleeping better in Academy Heights.

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