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Noise at Necco Aggravates Edgerton House Residents

By Victoria Y. Chang

Residents of Edgerton House discussed construction noise issues with representatives of Novartis, a company renovating the former Necco factory adjacent to the graduate residence, on Monday.

Students have complained about excessive noise, the harshest noise being in the early morning, lasting for about half an hour, after which there are often several hours of relative silence, said David D. Diel G, Edgerton House president.

Diel said that he has received about one hundred e-mail complaints from residents. Edgerton residents have been complaining about problems resulting from the neighboring construction site since March of this year. There are currently about 180 students living in Edgerton House.

Karen A. Nilsson, director of housing, said that some students suffered from damage to personal items during the heaviest part of construction in the spring, as well as extreme disruption due to the noise.

Diel said that Edgerton House residents have also lost parking spaces because of the construction of a multiple story parking garage for Novartis.

Students talk to construction reps

Approximately 50 students spoke with representatives from the Swedish pharmaceutical company and John Moriarty and Associates, the construction company working on the former Necco factory, about the construction situation on Monday. The event was originally intended to be a company presentation from Novartis, but the residents used the time to address the construction noise problems.

“I know they would like us to start working later, but that’s something we just can’t do, because we’re on a schedule to get the building completed,” said Jeffrey Lockwood, director of external and government relations for Novartis.

Recently, another source of noise has been the construction workers as they arrive on site before beginning construction. Diel said that residents told him that the workers have loud conversations, often including foul language.

Chris Brown, a representative for the construction company, said that they have spoken to the workers, given them a handout about the problem, and told them not to congregate near Edgerton.

As for the rest of the ongoing conflict, Lockwood said that he understands that the construction is disruptive, and that he and John Moriarty and Associates were trying to be accommodating as possible.

Brown said that loud construction should end in December.

Bernard Aebischer, global head of research and facility operations for Novartis, said that Novartis chose the Necco factory as the site for its newest facility because it is adjacent to the MIT campus and would offer opportunities for interaction with the campus.

Residents receive compensation

Some of the students who filed formal complaints with MIT received financial compensation in late August. About 12 students came forward with claims, and they received reimbursements on their bursar’s account, said Nilsson.

Diel said that he received $83.37 in compensation for “distress due to noise.” He said he did not know if the money was from Novartis, MIT, or the construction company.

“It was a negotiation settlement between housing and the company,” Nilsson said.

Nilsson also said that students living on the side of the building facing construction will be allowed to break from their one-year housing contract without penalty. The usual penalty is a $250 fine and the remaining rent if MIT is unable to find a tenant for the emptied room, Diel said.

Other options include room changes within Edgerton and the graduate housing transfer lottery, which closes on Nov. 23.