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Low-income housing, but at what price?
It’s 7:30 a.m. now as diesel engines come to life, idling loudly in the cool morning air, as if waiting for something.
Barely 15 minutes later the stillness of the morning is shattered as a 1,000-pound metal shaft is repetitively rammed into solid bedrock as if in defiance of the very ground we stand on. The sound of metal cutting saws, yelling voices and the sights and smells of a commercial contract job add to the intrusive cacophony.
It’s another delightful day living next to the “Sunrise” development ... and it’s not even 8 a.m. on a Saturday!
A family used to live here, surrounded by landscaped grounds, clean ponds, lush gardens and fruit trees. Having been completely logged in the mid-1980s, 10 years of work and cultivation were infused into this piece of property under their care.
Always open to the community and known for many all-inclusive events where the focus was connection and interaction within our islands family, this place was a sanctuary of sorts and was recognized within our community by many as a valuable asset to be maintained and respected.
That was the dream. This is the reality:
Since first breaking ground on Feb. 13, work continues virtually non-stop, even through weekends with Sunday as no exception! That’s 9-plus hours a day, 7 days a week of activity, at most times with unbearable noise levels that are comparable to a war zone. OSHA standards? Noise exposure? Hearing loss? Federal contract? Neighborhood goodwill?
Communication about the need for quieter operations, at least over the weekends, has either not been reciprocated, or returned as lip service with no actionable changes, even though e-mails have been sent out and complaints have been made by many.
Work continues through the weekends, and, as the neighborhood tries to enjoy precious time at home, complaints seem to fall along the wayside. This seems unwise as relations with those closest to the “development” disintegrate further, the community goodwill is likely to follow.
This is not an issue with Lawson Contracting, this is not a problem with Wellman & Zuck Construction. This issue at its roots is with the San Juan Community Home Trust, a committee of people who are pushing this project forward, at any and all costs, with complete disregard to the feelings or needs of the existing community. That doesn’t seem to be in the island spirit.
In closing, I believe the positive qualities of the project will become more visible as the dust clears and families move in, but currently, that is hard to visualize, for it looks like this is but the first phase of three to continue over the next few years.
I say stock up on goodwill and trust now, Sunrise, before you need it and it’s gone. Low-income housing, but at what price? There must be a kinder way.