Herald Staff Writer
A Norton resident told city council members that the Barberton Speedway will make people regret moving into the planned development on Clark Mill Road.
Noise from the Speedway is a problem for Durham Road resident Becky Woodruff and her neighbors. Acres of wooded land between Durham Road and the racetrack (about a half mile) serve as a minimally effective sound barrier, which would be gone if the land is cleared. Residents in the new development would have no barrier.
Woodruff said loud noise levels lead to increased stress, high blood pressure and damaged hearing. “85 decibels is enough to start damaging hearing,” she said. “The National Institute of Health that says noise levels measured during a race range from 96.5 to 104 decibels, and that’s at a NASCAR race.”
Reading from Hot Rod Network Magazine, she said, “It’s important for a racetrack operator, no matter what type of track they have or how long they’ve been there, to work with the community and local government officials to come up with a working arrangement that satisfies everybody. Racetracks, new or old, if they receive complaints from local residents concerning noise, must take a pro-active approach within the community, adding trees and man-made barriers, as well as running mufflers in the cars.”
Ward 1 councilman Jack Gainer said the issue was raised in previous years, and the Speedway owners planted some trees and erected some barriers.
Gainer chuckled and said, “It’s unbelievable that you would buy a house and move there, knowing the Speedway was there, and knowing how loud it was. I know it’s noisy, I can hear it from my house. I got used to it.”
“When we bought the house,” Woodruff said, “we only saw trees in our back yard. No one said anything about the Speedway. We had no way of knowing about the noise until after we moved in.”
Gainer said, “If Ms. Woodruff owned that [undeveloped] land,” he said, “I’m sure she would feel different. I would if I owned it. We have a choice to develop or not develop our city. This development will be good for the schools, it will bring in revenue for the city, and property values will go up. It’s good for the city.”