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The answer to The Foundry’s sound issue remains a simple and affordable one

We all love the notion of having a quality performance venue in our town. But the venue doesn’t work if it denies certain basic rights to its abutters.

To the editor:

I have been a year-round resident of West Stockbridge for 42 years. Eighteen months, in November 2022, I suggested to The Foundry owner, via a document submitted to the Planning Board, that she hire the people necessary to professionally sound-isolate the building. The issue being wrestled with would evaporate. She, her unhappy neighbors (Trúc and Trai Nguyen), the town boards, and the entire West Stockbridge community could then all move on amicably.

We all love the notion of having a quality performance venue in our town. And it seems Ms. Brentano has worked hard and made considerable strides in bringing this vision to fruition. But the venue doesn’t work if it denies certain basic rights to its abutters.

Professional sound isolation is the modification of a structure’s interior to ensure that no sound escapes. AT ALL. Pilot Recording Studios at 1073 Main Street in the village of Housatonic is nestled in the midst of numerous residences… and no sound makes its way to the outdoors. None. Zero. And if you have spent any time in a recording studio as I often have, you will quickly learn that sound pressure levels generated in them can easily dwarf anything going on at The Foundry.

Apparently, the Planning Board has arranged a site visit to The Foundry next Monday, June 10, for a “sound evaluation”—whatever that entails. Perhaps they should also schedule a fact-finding site visit five miles south to Pilot Recording Studios—in the old retrofitted church it occupies in the center of Housatonic.

Regarding sound isolating The Foundry: In the nearly two years of Planning Board meetings I have attended, “$1,500 (already spent on soundproofing)” is the one, consistent number that keeps being mentioned. $1,500? Is anybody paying attention? That would barely begin to pay for a qualified soundproofing expert just to do an analysis and come up with a design plan to seriously and adequately address the matter. Then would come contractors, materials, some down time of building use, etc, etc. Of course it is a big project. But shouldn’t a professional soundproofing job have been somewhere up around number one on the list at the outset four years ago? It’s the proper, logical, clean, and appropriate way to go.

But in 18 months, it appears The Foundry has contacted no engineering consultants on this project. I suspect no quotes have been received. Nor any money raised through GoFundMe used for this purpose. Endless attorney’s fees are apparently the expense of choice.

We are left with an acrimonious merry-go-round. And that circular firing squad reached an epic and chilling milestone last Monday night, June 3. A West Stockbridge resident I have always held in high regard stood up to speak. After goading Trúc Nguyen with faux praise for the wares at her store, he launched a vicious ad hominem attack, accusing her of living in a cardboard house and making up her noise claims out of thin air. It was a wicked and cheap shot. He knew none of that was true about her. But just like the trolling that’s encountered every day on social media, it was maliciously contrived to elicit exactly what he sought: an outburst of outrage in response. Are we really down to this now?

Please, all those who support Ms. Brentano’s efforts, convince her to do the professional soundproofing job. Better yet, show your support by contributing real time and money to help her with the effort. If a fairly monitored fund or account is set up for the explicit purpose of helping her effectively sound-isolate the building, I will volunteer $1,000 of my own. That’s how badly I want West Stockbridge to grow… and grow bigger of heart.

How about you?

Jim Bruenn
West Stockbridge

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