5,000th home this summer.
“While the program started slowly, it gradually
took off thanks to a targeted, hands-on public
information campaign and a lot of hard work,”
said Marily Mora, A.A.E., president/CEO of Reno-Tahoe International. Airport staff spread the news
about the program through neighborhood board
meetings and newspaper articles. Also during
those first years, the airport established customer
service practices that still exist in today’s program:
bilingual communications, one-on-one meetings,
home visits and pre-design, post-design and
pre-construction updates with the homeowners.
When word of mouth grew to the point that the
interest level exceeded available funding, length
of ownership initially was used to decide which
dwellings could participate. After all owner-occupied dwellings had been invited to participate
in the program, high demand led to rental
properties being included in 2006.
Over the years, the sound insulation program
has experienced its own challenges. One of these is
climate. The airport is located in the high desert at
4,415 feet above sea level and its proximity to the
Sierra Nevada mountain range brings an average
annual snowfall of two feet, some of which has
been known to fall as late as June and as early as
September. Memorial Day weekend snowfall is a
tradition for Reno and Sparks residents. Although
two feet of annual snowfall is far less than what
many winter weather airports experience, it doesn’t
take much snow or temperatures consistently
below freezing to make scheduling construction
projects tricky. Because northern Nevada weather
constraints exist, the airport program squeezes all
sound insulation construction into a seven-month
window whether retrofitting 100 or 1,200 dwellings.
To staff the program, a program manager was
incorporated into the planning, engineering and
environmental management department. Benefits
from this approach included streamlining the
management structure to maximize funds. It also
continued the one-on-one approach with the
community since the program manager also acts as a
liaison and has significant interaction with residents.
The program uses the professional services of
both architectural and acoustical consultants;
however, the majority of program tasks and
responsibilities rest with the internal airport staff.
Despite the gradual increase in dwellings per
year and the increasing customer service efforts,
the number of airport personnel working on the
project has never exceeded two to three employees.
Staffing levels remained the same despite the
decision in late 2009 to provide sound insulation
improvements for eligible apartment complexes,
which necessitated staff attendance at weekly
inspections and open house meetings for tenants. A
total of nine apartment complexes varying in size
from 56 units to 404 units fall within the airport’s
squared-off 65 DNL noise exposure contour.
In anticipation of the program sunsetting in
2014, remaining, eligible homeowners were sent
applications. In addition, airport staff, along with
the program architect and a bilingual consultant,
canvassed the eligible neighborhoods to recruit
participants for the final noise mitigation phase
and to ensure that property owners were given one
last opportunity to participate. Additional outreach
was also made via the Reno/Sparks Association
of Realtors in an effort to capture homes that may
have been lost in the transition between owners.
The phrase “sound insulation” fails to describe
the wide range of improvements that homeowners
The phrase “sound insulation”
fails to describe the wide
range of improvements that
homeowners have experienced.