Norwich Public Safety Buildings: Anew
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Mary Fowler

The roar of multiple earth-moving giants assails me even as I write, in what used to be my Peaceable Kingdom, aka Norwich Senior Housing, an abutter of the town’s Public Safety complex.  We are three weeks into the destruction of the Old; preparation for the New.   Rhythmic shakings of my entire house ricochet up my chair legs, also knock about the tools placed too loosely in a cabinet drawer. These are reverberations from a relatively small tractor with big, loosish treads that rattle so vehemently the knockings can be felt out on Main St, the Project Manager says. The waves of impact reel out like waves within big bodies of water.  He smiles.  Savvy?   


                           This is the little guy with the rattly treads.  Wicked bad.

Readers may have heard: after years of saintly patience, the town’s policemen are finally getting new quarters.  Brand new quarters.  That’s a hoot and a holler they surely had believed would never be delivered, after the first $7 million complex proposed to be sited at the ABC Dairy property down near the river, off Rte 5 north, was voted down; and a subsequent $3 million proposal to be sited at Firehouse Lane, right in the center of Norwich, likewise failed to win support.  Now a $1 million-plus complex has won tax-payer support, and the old wheezy building they’d suffered these last many years is already gone!  Gone, gone.  Windows knocked out, roof ripped asunder, walls pounded into dust by the big angled “bucket” before being hauled away on huge, construction-ready barges on wheels.

Nothing out there but shriven earth at this stage of construction, and now deep-alley canals reminiscent of ancient Egyptian architectural design–something to contain the new building foundation, I suppose.  These canals winding through the earth itself.

    We're looking here on the back side of the firestation, which will remain as is.

Our Project Construction Manager, on seeing my constant presence with a camera on site, has ambled over and genially chats me up–remarks that the topsoil of the site is remarkably good quality.  Construction will not require the several truckloads of gravel they’d anticipated. 

One of the largest victims of this assault is what I would call a little copse of trees that once lay between the 28-block of Senior Housing, on the west side of the complex, and the little lane that provides public access to the police.  The wrenching and tossing of these trees contributes to the chopped-spinach sense of greenery in these pictures.  {The trees still standing are shown in next picture below this one.]

We here at Senior Housing are not opposed to providing good quarters for our Policemen.  These gentlemen are indeed our best friends; they have come to haul fallen residents with frail hips up off the floor more than once.  But this process, this is knocking our teeth asunder, throwing us off balance. One resident reported the shakings and wailings of that little plow-tractor had set her pace-maker apace every time it passed by.  And believe it or not, on my piano, the "E" note 2  octaves below middle C was set a-humming--for a full five minutes, I believe.

I have to say: figuring out I should document the process, pictorially, has helped me own the changes.  Shake my house, be damned.  Ye cannot take my soul.

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