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Our (Grass) Roots

The Got Noise? group began to develop during the spring of 1999, following a “brown bag” luncheon meeting with Westport First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell. At this meeting, residents of Westport asked that the First Selectman investigate why Westport was one of the only towns in Fairfield County without sound barriers along I-95. The local newspaper, the Westport News, published an article about this meeting and noted that Asbjorn Gjertsen, who lived by I-95, had volunteered to help organize an effort to get sound barriers erected.

In response to the article, Asbjorn received numerous calls from Westport residents, including many who had worked on this problem in the past. A group began meeting periodically at Asbjorn’s house, and began circulating a petition and researching why Westport was without sound barriers.

Our petitioning efforts led to increased interest in the community, and we held a meeting at Westport Town Hall on June 15, 1999, to share what we had learned and solicit ideas. (This meeting was covered by the Connecticut Post.)

Members of the group also met with elected officials and representatives of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, as well as several attorneys and lobbyists. We concluded that a first step should be conducting a sound study to assess the current conditions and compare them with those reported in ConnDOT records. To pay for this study, we began a fundraising campaign.

While Got Noise? was ultimately unsuccessful in getting legislation passed that would erect sound barriers, its introduction did produce a response, notably from banking lobbyists in Hartford. The banking lobby is opposed to any special taxing districts, such as those for sewers and the one we proposed for sound barriers, because they want to avoid all liens on the houses for which their clients provide mortgage loans.

After a several-year hiatus as a formal group, Got Noise? is back together again in 2009, hoping to accomplish the goal it set for itself at the start of this decade.