Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: City residents wary of blasting

I am writing in response to the article about the blasting and renovation at the nursing home Vergennes. A story published on addisonindependent.com this past Friday about the blasting scheduled for this past Monday, Dec. 11, at the nursing home on my block tells us this, in part: 

“Dan Hassan [the owner] said the first stage of preparing the site for the new buildings will be blasting ‘ledge on the back slope, where the foundation of the new construction will be.’ The sound and effects of that blasting will be dampened by large rubber mats placed over each detonation. The Hassans have also notified the roughly 30 potentially directly affected neighbors of what’s on the way to allow them to prepare, for instance by taking antiques off shelves as a precaution. ‘I don’t think they’ll vibrate off shelves or anything like that, but they’ll certainly feel it,’ Hassan said. The Hassans have also taken to social media to inform the larger community of what to expect.”

I am one of those affected neighbors. So far, the Hassans’ communication with neighbors has been less than complete, to put it generously. I had to pull teeth to get information. The Hassans have never been in touch with me. Only the survey company that was hired by the blasting company to survey homes around the blast has contacted me. When I had questions about this survey and blasting, I found the phone number of the drilling company in Maine and called them several weeks back. No one — from the blasting company to the survey folks — told me anything about risks to me. They assured me I would not hear it and that my house and possessions would be safe.

No one ever told me to take anything down off shelves (much less spoke of antiques). Did anyone from the Addy Indy contact any of those 30 neighbors? Or did they just take it on faith that what Mr. Hassan told them was true? I polled a few people around here, and I have so far found only two that were told about taking things off shelves. In fact, Mr. Hassan apparently sent out people and boxes to help pack up one lucky family. Not me. Other neighbors polled by me were shocked and surprised and had heard nothing about taking things off shelves.

The article alerts us that blasting could start on Monday, Dec. 11. By the time this letter sees print, that “Monday” will have been a few days ago. I have no boxes to pack in or time to secure precious items at this point. Why were some neighbors notified but not others? I am on Front Porch Forum. I have seen no information posted there about what to expect. What social media are they using? No one I polled has seen a thing about this in the media until the Addy Indy article.

Note, too, that I posted about this on Facebook. I got the worrying reply from a friend who lives near where similar blasting took place off Shelburne Road for a housing development near the golf course. Her cement foundation cracked. She lives nowhere as close to that blasting as we all in the center of town here in Vergennes live with respect to the nursing home. I have lived through earthquakes in my time in California. The picture is not pretty. But now, of course, Mr. Hassan is on the record about his own concerns about damage. It might come back to haunt him. I hope everyone has had surveys done of your homes if you live nearby.

Marcia Merryman-Means

Vergennes

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