Students and administrators meet for Colonial noise

Students and administrators discussed construction noise issues that have dogged the Colonial Building across two semesters at a forum on Thursday night.

Colonial residents and administrators gathered for the community meeting on the eighth floor of the residence hall. There were 13 students and at least eight administrators.

Several students told the administrators in attendance that noise from construction, occurring both in the theater located within the building and in Little Building next door, made it difficult for them to sleep.

One student said they were having nightmares, while another said the noise impacts their mental well-being. Students on the seventh floor reported being able to pinpoint where work was occurring beneath their feet.

“I’m just losing sleep, and I’m just not doing things as well,” freshman Isabelle Alexander said during the forum. “I’m not as aware in class.”

Colonial residents are nestled between two construction sites: Little Building, which is on track for completion by August 2019, and the Colonial Theatre, located on the bottom floor of the residence hall. The theater is undergoing restoration before it’s upcoming June 2018 debut with the Ambassador Theatre Group.

Work on both Little Building and the Colonial Theatre begins at 7 a.m. and continues until 3:30 p.m., or 6 p.m. on extended work days.

Students proposed to administrators an array of solutions to the noise, ranging from starting construction later in the morning to creating designated quiet hours, but encountered logistical issues.

Senior Associate Vice President for Real Estate Arthur Mombourquette said the current hours were stipulated by the college’s contracts with Suffolk Construction, and altering them would effectively force the college to pay its subcontractors overtime.

Mombourquette said the replacement of the wooden rigging attached to the venue’s ceiling caused the noise from the theater, and that the most disruptive work would end by mid or late March.

“That portion of the project will be completed in March,” he said. “That constant hammering you hear will be replaced by sporadic hammering. I certainly can’t sugarcoat it.”

Colonial residents with windows facing Little Building reported similar issues.

“I wake up every morning at seven when they start,” sophomore Autumn Pattison said.

The college plans for the Little Building to be complete in time for freshman move-in day in 2019. Before then, subcontractors must complete a number of noisy tasks, including stripping away the building’s facade, cutting elevator and ventilation shafts into concrete, and installing new exterior panelling, Mombourquette said.

The forum was announced through posters hung around the residence building and in an email sent on Feb. 14. It is the latest in a series of attempts by the college to address the construction issue.

On Jan. 31, Residence Director Michael Barcelo sent out an email offering students earplugs to deal with the noise. The Beacon previously reported that students started receiving emails about the construction last semester.

Associate Dean for Campus Life Erik Muurisepp thanked the students in attendance for their cooperation as the college continues to expand.

“We know it’s a lot,” he said. “We know with that growth does come some growing pains.”

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