How often we have sat on the veranda and enjoyed the greenery of Springwell’s back yard, or have watched children ride their sleds down the hill. Well, the scenery has changed in recent months. On the first of March a protective fence was planted around the entire area to restrict trespassing on the grounds where The Homestead will be built. Ground breaking began the first of March but sev-eral weeks of intermittent rains hampered any grad-ing of the soil (not dirt). We have seen dump truck after dump truck load of soil being moved from one place to another. There is good reason for this.
Let’s say the new building and its wings will be erected on level ground, call it “grade 400,” but not all of it is level. It is more or less level in the front of the building, that is facing the corner of Wexford and Enslow Avenues, but both roads have an incline, especially Enslow in the back. It starts at grade 400 but increases to about grade 412, twelve feet higher. The back yard is also in-clined, and in order to make it level, tons and tons of soil was removed and piled where it would not interfere with construction. Notice that the bottom of the white wall is about ten feet or so below the surface of Enslow Ave. and you can understand why the upward slant of the ground made excavation necessary to make a flat surface for the new building.
The white retention wall is special, made of hollow concrete blocks of several sizes and shapes that interlock when assembled, then filled with stone. The biggest weights about 3,000 pounds. Their job is to keep the soil along Wexford Avenue where it belongs and protect Homestead buildings and lawns.
How about all of that equipment! There were two dump trucks shuffling soil day after day, bulldozers with shovels on their fronts lifting soil and loading it in trucks, there are several sizes of bulldozers large and small, the smallest one I named Hanna because it is so fast and can reverse its direction on a dime. There are backhoes that can reach out, dig a ditch, pull the earth to it, pile it beside itself or load it on a dump truck. The bucket on one of them is the correct size for the excavation of foundations. Then there’s the grader, look for the bulldozer with two antennas attached to it’s front bucket. The an-tennas are in touch with a disk mounted on a pole at the end of the back side-walk, the disk talks with a satellite that talks with Wohlsen’s computer (the Contractor) that instructs the blade to move up or down to level the ground – within a fraction of an inch. The driver of the grader just steers and lets the grading happen.
Don’t miss the chance to see a building being built. Look out the window in the Overlook Sunroom to see skilled workers excavating ditches for footings of walls, laying rebar in them for strength, filling them to a precise level with concrete, then laying cement blocks on top forming walls of the first wing of the building. The Homestead is growing right before your eyes!