Our Lady of Victory squashes the 'Mosquito'
Pleasant Street may have just gotten a little more pleasant for those who were annoyed by the anti-loitering "Mosquito Device" that Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church was using to ward off loiterers.
In a phone call Thursday, a worker with the church's answering service relayed a message from the church's Father Ronald Antinarelli giving an update on the device.
"The sounding device at the church has been turned off," the message said.
Michele Tucker, a neighbor of the church, said Thursday that she hadn't heard the device since about midday Friday.
On Monday, CITY and WXXI News published a story about Our Lady of Victory's use of the Mosquito, and the effect it has had on neighborhood residents' quality of life.
The Mosquito looks like a metal-grate box and that emits a high-frequency squeal. The church has boxes affixed on its side, blaring out the tone at intermittent times throughout the day.
Antinarelli did not respond to comment for the original story, nor did the Diocese of Rochester. On Thursday, the Diocese declined to comment on the situation, calling it an issue with Our Lady of Victory, and referred any questions to the church.
The church had drawn the ire of neighbors for blasting the squeal. Some of them lodged complaints against the church, but until recent days, their pleas fell on deaf ears.
“My boyfriend has gone over a couple times. He’s seen people working outside and was like, ‘Hey, what’s up with the tone?’” said Hillary Bureau, 28, who lives across the street. “They yelled at him, told him to get off their property, it keeps the bums away, all that kind of stuff."
City officials had also questioned the tone and believed it was being used improperly. The Mosquito has two settings, one of which can only be heard by young people. The fact that the device could be heard by people over the age of 20 painted a picture that it was being misused, according to a correspondence with the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development shared by city spokesperson Justin Roj.
“The fact that the device can be heard by people over 20 years of age indicates an error in the settings,” the correspondence read. “[An officer] will be following up with church staff and advise them that it is an annoyance to the neighbors."
The city's noise ordinance prohibits consistent noise that is audible at a distance of 50 feet beyond a property line.
Our Lady of Victory was founded in 1868, and was for decades known as "the little French Church," having originally offered Masses in French, then Flemish to cater to a burgeoning Dutch population. It officially began holding Masses in English in 1940.
In 1975, the church absorbed St. Joseph parish after a fire destroyed that church on Franklin Street. Today, the church is officially referred to as Our Lady of Victory-St. Joseph and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
This story includes reporting from WXXI producer Veronica Volk and CITY editor David Andreatta.