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Watertown working on noise problems at City Hall

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The high-pitched sound that had City Hall buzzing last month may be quieting down.

A representative from Hyde-Stone Mechanical Contractors, the Watertown company that was paid $187,000 to install the high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment last summer, recently came to see what could be done to solve the noise problem.

To quell the noise, a neoprene soft gasket material was placed on some equipment. It seemed to work, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said.

More of that material may be installed to see if it will do the trick to stop the high-pitched hum, he said Thursday.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed and see how it goes,” Mr. Hauk said.

If it does not work, some wrapping material may be placed around piping that runs inside the building’s walls from the basement to the third floor.

Hyde-Stone will pay for the neoprene material, but it would be up to the city to pay for the wrapping material, Mr. Hauk said. Extra money not used in the HVAC project could pay for that material, however.

Mr. Hauk said he does not know whether anyone can be blamed for the problem. Last month, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham and Mr. Hauk disagreed over whether the company responsible for the noise should pay to fix the problem.

In recent months, City Hall employees have complained that the noise is annoying and disrupts them during work. They have described the noise as being worse in a second-floor office, in a women’s restroom and in the city clerk’s office.

The city purchased a chiller and other equipment from Maryland-based HVAC company Trane for $85,824, and had Hyde-Stone install it. The Syracuse engineering firm Sack & Associates drew up the specs for the project.

Mr. Hauk said he had no inkling the sound was going to occur until the chiller in the system used to cool off the building was tested in late April, and the noise began soon afterward.

The culprit is a vibrating pipe that runs from the basement, where the chiller is located, to the roof.

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