YUHS construction causes headaches

The noise from the construction of the new UHS building has been disturbing nearby residents.
The noise from the construction of the new UHS building has been disturbing nearby residents. Photo by Victor Zapana.

For the past few months, Ian Gifford and his wife, Lu Yang MUS ’10, have had to deal with a noisy neighbor: Yale.

They live at 105-115 Sachem St., a long, white building divided into six uniform two-floor houses. The building is a mere 500 feet from the construction site of the new Yale University Health Services building and across the street from the demolition site for the two new residential colleges. Residents of 105-115 Sachem St. interviewed over the last month said they often complain about the disturbances.

“All day when the construction is going, you cannot [accomplish] anything at home. You cannot open the window either. It is just too loud,” said one former tenant, who asked to remain anonymous because he is employed by the University.

Asked about the disturbances, Yale officials said they follow city protocol in minimizing noise during the YUHS construction, which began in July 2008, and the demolition, which started this month. Although the tenants are now realizing how difficult living near University expansion can be, they mostly bear with it.

Because the majority are graduate students, they will leave within a few months. And once construction is over, Yale officials said, more tenants will come flocking to the newly developed area.

Noise was not among the concerns raised two years ago, when Dixwell community members met at City Hall to support the city’s transfer of Prospect Triangle development rights to the University. Nor was it raised in May 2007, when Roxanne Condon, chair of the Dixwell Management Team, said that the neighborhood welcomed YUHS construction.

But now, some residents are reeling. The former tenant, who lived at the Sachem Street building until this July, said he constantly woke up around 8 a.m. to jackhammers. The noise became such a distraction, he added, that he moved his bed from an upstairs bedroom to his living room, which was farther from the construction.

Still, Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 stressed that the construction workers are “conscientious” and actively minimize noise disruptions.

“It is impossible to rehabilitate buildings or build new ones without some noise or some disruption,” he said Thursday. “That is true everywhere.”

Besides, the noise is only short term. City economic development administrator Kelly Murphy has pointed out that after the sawing and whirring and grinding are all completed in a few years, the University development will help the neighborhood flourish.

As for the 105-115 Sachem St. building, a likely result of nearby development will be a “positive change in rentability,” Associate Vice President and University Properties Director Abigail Rider said this week.

“It will knit this area more tightly with the central campus,” she said, “and the planned improvements will make the area very attractive.”

But attractive to whom? Rider said current tenants at the property are generally post-doctorate or graduate students. Soon, 850 undergraduates will move in across the street as members of Yale’s 13th and 14th residential colleges.

The area is no stranger to Yale undergraduate housing. After all, 105-115 Sachem St. was an annex for Timothy Dwight College in the 1980s .

The potential influx of undergraduate tenants to the Sachem Street building and the neighborhood may come to the relief of some local residents. Caroline Levy DIV ’08 said last year that she wanted a more integrated community in the area.

“It would probably give a different tone to the neighborhood,” Levy said at the time. “[But] it’d be nice to have more undergraduates around because we have so little contact with them.”

For now, graduate students will be the primary tenants on Sachem Street. They often come and go, living in the neighborhood for a year or two before going back to their home country or moving to other universities for research.

Gifford and Yang, for instance, will move to Great Britain, where he grew up, once she graduates from the School of Music next spring. And the residents of 105 Sachem St., husband and wife Ori Reuven and Nurit Schnabel, will be leaving next month.

Good riddance, Reuven said. When they first saw the house, over a year ago, he said they saw the genesis of YUHS construction, some machinery in the distance. But Reuven said he did not realize the construction would be so close. In fact, their house is one of the closest to the site. “We survive,” Reuven said.

But he added that the noise has been deterring others from leasing the apartment. The University and its property management company, Elm Campus Partners, have not yet found any tenants.

“It’s related to the fact that it is this construction area near the house, and it’s intimidating,” Reuven said. “They showed the apartment a couple of times. … But I don’t know how they will rent this apartment.”

Built in 1970, 105-115 Sachem St. was acquired by the University in 1980.

Comments

  • former resident

    the noise in that neighborhood is unbearable. i lived on mansfield for years and it was non-stop, first, the forestry school buildings (and other buildings up and down prospect), then the hockey rink and health building. now i understand they’re clearing buildings for the new colleges. it’s a nightmare and i am SO glad that i don’t live anywhere near there anymore.

  • former Mansfield resident

    Gifford is lucky if the jackhammers wake him at 8am. Many of us in the area have routinely heard the noise at 7am or earlier as the trucks arrive, the site gets unchained, equipment gets started up and moved around, and loads of metal and stone get dumped. There are also late night building shifts on some sites and incredible road disruption sometimes right outside your door without anyone even leaving a note to say it’s going to happen. They should put all this in the welcome booklets!

  • Suck it Up

    Really, suck it up. It’s better than falling through a goddamned bridge.