SIMS Construction is Complete at Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Sound Insulation and Mitigation Services (SIMS) successfully completed its seventh and final project in March 2013 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church on East Cocopah Street. "Make a joyful noise" is one of the messages inscribed on the walls of the church, and the sound mitigation construction has reduced noise heard inside from airplanes arriving and departing nearby Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The SIMS treatments are designed to reduce aircraft noise levels by at least five decibels, which makes conversation and music easier to hear inside Mt. Zion. The church hosts Bible study classes on Wednesday evenings, choir practice on Friday evenings, and a Sunday morning church service for up to 150 people that includes live music performances.

The SIMS project began in early January 2013 with the removal of existing ceiling panels in the church sanctuary, and included work to reinforce the roof structure before replacing the sanctuary ceiling and installing new lighting. The church received new sound-reducing exterior doors and windows, new heating/air conditioning units, and a new, ADA-accessible ramp at the rear exit.

Property owner Rita James is married to Mt. Zion's Pastor David James. "The pastor, church leaders and I are so happy with the improvements the SIMS project brought to Mt. Zion, which is so important as the church 'home' to many of us," said Rita.

SIMS staff worked closely with Mt. Zion's staff to determine a construction schedule that would have the least impact on church members and staff and also fit the SIMSí program schedule. Construction was scheduled so that Mt. Zion could host its Christmas service prior to construction and Easter service after construction.

SIMS staff also coordinated meetings that resulted in nearby Wesley Community Center (WCC) offering space for Mt. Zion to hold its Sunday service during the most active period of construction in January and February. After meeting each other for the first time as a result of their respective SIMS projects, Mt. Zion and WCC staff now are talking about ways they can partner in their community service efforts in the future.

As typical with previous SIMS projects, once seeing the improvements SIMS brought to their building, the property owners were motivated to make their own, additional improvements to Mt. Zion, such as installing new carpet and hanging new wall banners.

On March 31, Mt. Zion Baptist Church held its Easter service inside its building where SIMS had left notable improvements to the way it looks and sounds. Property owner Rita James reported, "Everything went great on Easter. We were almost filled to capacity. Everybody loved the new building and they could not stop looking around at how beautiful everything looked. We are so grateful for everything that has been done."

"After four years and seven projects, our staff and contractors have installed thousands of square feet of acoustical ceiling tiles and many sound-reducing windows and doors," said SIMS Program Manager Mary Beth Thompson. "But the true measure of the SIMS program will be the families who can better converse, learn and worship within the sound mitigated walls of these structures, now and for years to come. To be able to improve the quality of life for neighborhoods in the Sky Harbor community has been incredibly rewarding."

Sky Harbor pays for SIMS through Airport-generated funds and at times, the program is funded by Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grants.

Published: May 6, 2013

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