21 Aug 2014
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Noise from Audible Street Signals for Blind Too Loud, Southold Residents Say

Does the beeping of the audible traffic signal for the visually impaired shatter your quality of life in Southold?

There's a sound that's causing residents and business owners around Youngs Avenue and Route 25 in Southold to cry out in protest — the constant beeping of an audible street signal for the visually impaired.

Robert Maddalena, who lives on Youngs Avenue, brought a petition to the Southold town board Tuesday signed by his neighbors asking for help and guidance about what to do about the device, which he said sounds like a "supermarket scanner," — others compared the sound to the 70s video game Pong — that he said is destroying quality of life for those living near the signal, located across from the IGA and Silversmith's Corner.

The residents said while they are in favor of devices to help the visually impaired and blind, but would like one a little "torturous to the senses," Maddalena said.

"This is overkill," he added. "What will it be like in the warm weather, with the window open?"

Maddalena also asked how Southold was lucky enough to "receive such an honor," when no other audible aids that he knew of had been installed in neighboring hamlets such as Riverhead. "We support the blind community and would like to work together to find something that would have less of an impact on the public soundscape," he said.

Maddalena also read documentation from the National Federation of the Blind that said the organization maintains "buzzers and bird calls" on traffic signals are a disservice to the blind.

Ron Rothman, whose business is located near the signal, said the audible device presents "probably the biggest detriment to the quality of life in the area."

Rothman played a tape of the noise — to hear the sound, watch the Patch video here — and said the noise was unacceptable and not appropriate to the hamlet.

After measuring the sound with a decibel meter, Rothman said the noise was over 80 decibels; the town code prohibits music that loud he said. "This beeping is going on 24/7 in a quiet hamlet," he said.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said perhaps the device had been installed incorrectly and that he would investigate.

Eileen Peters, public affairs officer for the New York State Department of Transportation, researched the issue and said the volume on the signal has been turned down. In addition, she added, such signals are only installed at the request of either an individual, organization, or group. 

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