Blasting on Comm Ave in Newton irks neighbors
Brookline —The pounding of ledge at 1193 Commonwealth Ave, roughly across from the Newton City Hall, which began in late May and turned to blasting in early July is expected to continue on for at least a couple of more weeks, according to the builder and some local residents are losing patience.
Margaret Howard, of Newtonville, walks her dog on the carriage road past the site where two homes will be built and thinks it is unsightly.
“What can you compare this to?” said Howard, “The Grand Canyon? A rock quarry?”
Howard also complained of the noise in the neighborhood, which she says she often hears from the Newton Free Library parking lot. Howard doesn’t think it’s fair to the neighborhood.
Howard said, “Does Newton really need two more mega-mansions?”
Developer Vin Gately, of Heritage Properties said that the process has taken longer than he’d expected, partly because of the difficulty in predicting complicated construction processes, and partly because of a surprise.
“We found out that the MWRA has some pipes beneath the carriage lane or the grass strip,” said Gately.
That meant that Gately had to use a hoe ram first for about a month because the ledge was too close to the MWRA pipes for blasting.
“The hammering part took longer than we thought,” said Gately.
Gately also said that his firm has been conscientious of neighbors. When the owners of the house next door called him to say they had out-of-town guests coming for a wedding, he agreed to quiet things down.
“So for four days in June we didn’t do any hammering, even though we still had to pay to have the equipment on site. In fact, only two people have called to complain,” said Gately.
Gately said they finished hammering in mid-July and they’ve moved on to blasting.
“Now they’re blasting many, many, many tiny blasts which cost more,” said Gately.
Gately says he had a survey performed on houses in the neighborhood to explain the scope of the work that would be done and document the condition of the surrounding homes.
“They went to about a dozen houses. We had more of a negative response from the hammering six hours a day. Now we only have two or three blasts a day for five weeks.”
Ward Five Aldermen-at-large Brian Yates said he’s gotten some email complaints from residents in the vicinity of the site. He’s personally seen dust clouds rising from the blast site and says that people have heard the noise from as far away as the other side of Beacon Street.
Yates thinks that in a city like Newton that has been largely developed, the city needs construction management tools that help to mitigate impact on projects like these.
“There may be some projects are so dire and drastic to neighbors, that we would not allow them,” said Yates.
When ledge is blasted, dozens of small holes are first drilled into the rock, then dynamite and blasting caps are inserted into the hole and detonated simultaneously. Each audible “blast” is made up of dozens of smaller explosions. After the loose rock is cleared, the process is repeated.
Ledge makes an excellent foundation, but building a house on it can pose other problems. Rainwater can hit the ledge and flow along the top of it into the basement and a radioactive soil gas called Radon sometimes follows the ledge up from below and enters a house that way.
It can also be tricky to handle runoff from storms, though the developer is required to have an engineer design systems to ensure that runoff from the new home sites do not effect the neighboring houses.
Gately said that his engineers have worked all those issues out.
There are no buyers for the properties yet, according to Gately. He says they will go on the market around Labor Day.
By Jim Morrisonfirstname.lastname@example.org