The hard (and fascinating) work of “Building What Matters” – a new 54,000 sq. ft. Y facility at the Westport Weston Family Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno campus – continues day by day. Check out the latest views in the photo gallery above.
Visitors to the site can see foundation walls rising from the building’s hillside setting, as the large crane shifts the concrete forms from place to place as new sections are completed. Our partners at Turner Construction Company report that the foundation walls around the perimeter of the building are 65 percent complete, with the interior footings 30 percent finished. As the crews work their way “out of the building,” the earthen ramp providing access to the inside will be removed, allowing 100 percent completion of footing and foundation walls.
With the foundation and footing of the building’s outer walls nearing completion, our construction partners are preparing to begin the phase in which we erect the steel framework for our new Y.
In a couple of weeks a 250-ton crane will arrive. It will take a dozen trucks to get the crane to the site, and a second, 70-ton crane to help assemble it. The larger crane will be 350 feet tall – high enough to lift into place the massive steel beams that will span the width of the Strittmatter Family Aquatic Center. This large crane will be visible as you drive past the site on the Merritt, so try to keep your eyes on the road! (Better yet, join one of our guided tours on the site, which take place every Wednesday at 12:15 pm. To sign up, email Susie Haydon at email@example.com.)
Meanwhile, excavators and heavy-duty front loaders and dump trucks are working their way through the piles of excavated material. The loose rock and gravel is fed through a set of crushing machines. In one end goes a gigantic scoop of jagged rocks; out the other end pours a stream of different-size processed rock and screened fill, ready to be used as back-fill. The tall pile of topsoil that’s become a temporary landmark to travelers up and down the Merritt has been covered with erosion-control blankets of straw netting, keeping the prized “dirt” protected until it can be used toward the end of the 18-month construction project.
With the recent spring thunderstorms, erosion control continues to be a priority, and the barriers, wood chips and bales of straw that ring the building site are regularly inspected and augmented if need be.
On occasion, the crews come across some unexpected, but always welcome sights. The rains early in June brought out onto the bare ground several native box turtles, including some babies, all of which were carefully returned to their riparian habitat along Poplar Plains Brook. Several larger snapping turtles also showed up, and were handled with much more care than you see in episodes of “Call of the Wildman.” (The longtime mascot of Camp Mahackeno, “Mack” the snapper was probably wondering where all the counselors are these days — they’re at Earthplace, helping set up for our special partnership for day camp this summer.)
Elsewhere on the 6-acre construction site on flat ground adjacent to the Merritt, work crews are burying rows of hollow, bright yellow structures in deep beds of the processed rock under what will be the new Y’s parking lot. Known as infiltration galleries, they’re part of an elaborate, ultra-modern stormwater drainage system that “is engineering that you’ll never see, but is a major environmental benefit,” says Dan Drake, Turner’s construction manager. “Without it, stormwater would rush straight into local streams, carrying with it any material it picks up on the way.”
Instead, this new stormwater technology will allow rainwater to be gathered from three main points on the high ground where our new Y will be situated, then channeled through drains to these underground galleries. This system will allow the rainwater to percolate down into the ground, through the deep layers of glacial fill, recharging the aquifer as it makes its way safely to the Saugatuck and then the short trip out to Long Island Sound.
For more information about the Westport Weston Family Y’s Building What Matters campaign to fund and construct a modern new home, please visit www.westporty.org. For more views of what the first phase of our new Family Y will look like from the inside, click on the gallery below.