Goodbye Safeway, Hello Construction

The constant pounding and whirring of machines fill the air of the once tranquil GDS neighborhood. Just a few weeks ago, the Safeway building that sat vacant for nearly two years was reduced to rubble in mere days. The unrecognizable pile of bricks marks the start of the unification process of the two GDS campuses. The construction crew is paving the way for a brand new school with the goal of bringing together the GDS community by the fall of 2020. For now, however, the neighborhood must put up with the construction that accompanies it.  

People have had mixed feelings about GDS’s plans for campus unification. Although there is not much that can be changed at this point, complaints are still pertinent.

Sophomore Megna Ratnapuri, who lives close to the high school, isn’t too excited about the new school.

“I feel like the campus is already way too small and, adding another school and a bunch of noisy children, it’ll be too many kids,” Ratnapuri said.

Many neighbors have similar worries about how crowded the area could become, but GDS neighbor Johanna Moran isn’t too concerned about the increase of students. Moran has a more positive outlook on the new school. She believes that other areas are even more densely packed than GDS, and, somehow, everything will work itself out.

One of the biggest complaints among neighbors is the noise of the construction. While it may bother some of the GDS teachers who are trying to get through their lessons, it is worse for neighbors who border the school.

“It wakes me up because my windows face it and they’re really thin, so I can hear them drilling in the mornings,” Ratnapuri said.  

Laine Kaplowitz, whose house borders the construction, didn’t seem as bothered by the noise, but she did complain about the sewer and plumbing workers.

“When those big white trucks come, they are really loud,” she said. “So I will be on a conference call in the kitchen and I can’t even hear.”

The noise disturbs many people’s day-to-day life and is irritating for working adults and students alike. Unfortunately, noise isn’t the only downside to the building of the new school. The construction team covered up the storm drains for many of the houses who border the school a month before construction even began. Because of the unusual amount of rain this summer, both Ratnapuri and Kaplowitz’s houses flooded multiple times. According to Ratnapuri, her family had to shove layers of blankets against their doors in an attempt to prevent the water from flooding their house.

Kaplowitz had a similar experience with flooding. Two inches of water rushed into their living room from the front door. She has spoken to the head of construction, but the construction workers were unable to do anything to solve the street’s flooding issue. To avoid another flood, Kaplowitz now must spend hundreds of dollars to regrade her lawn and direct the water somewhere else.

Kaplowitz explained that many other neighbors are frustrated by the new building. She believes that the root of all these complaints is not in the building itself, but the change that comes with it.

“They are grumpy that there’s change,” Kaplowitz said. “People don’t like change.”

Kaplowitz recalled an incident when the city sent workers to measure and stake out a new sidewalk on the property of two brothers who have lived in the same house since childhood.

“They measured the whole sidewalk for this pedestrian walkway and they [the brothers] pulled everything out, all those stakes,” Kaplowitz said.  

Regardless of the opinions neighbors may have of the construction, there is very little that can actually be changed. As Moran aptly put it, “They can’t tell the construction workers to stop; they can’t blame the school because the school needs a new building, so you’re kind of just stuck.”

There are little things, however, that could improve the overall process for those who are involved. Moran believes that all it would take are simple acts of kindness from the school to change the favor of those who live near the construction. She thinks the school should reach out and do something nice for the people most affected by the construction.

“Even just that gesture would bring some goodwill from the people who are living with it,” Moran said.

By: Tabitha Lynn’21 and Kate Vidano’21