Hospital Demolition Taking Longer Than Anticipated
So far seven of the eight buildings at the old hospital site on Witherspoon Street have been removed. The last was scheduled to “disappear” at the weekend, but due to the fact that the work had to proceed “small piece by small piece,” said municipal engineer Bob Kiser, the removal has been “more tedious than anticipated.”
In addition, delays occurred when hydraulic lines broke and had to be replaced.
As a result, the demolition was not completed as scheduled, and that part of Witherspoon Street by the site will close for another four days beginning today, Wednesday, January 21.
The work had been scheduled and roads closed Friday through Monday to coincide with schools closures for the Martin Luther King holiday when children would not be walking past the site on their way to and from Community Park School. It had been said that if the demolition was not completed this past weekend, the work would continue when schools were closed for the President’s Day holiday next month.
That plan has changed, however, and the work will proceed January 21 through January 24, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and all day Saturday. “By the end of the day, Saturday, we anticipate having a 30 foot width of building closest to Witherspoon Street removed,” said Mr. Kiser, “weather permitting.”
“We think it’s in everyone’s interests to get it done as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Kiser yesterday. Witherspoon Street will again be closed between Franklin Avenue and Birch Avenue between those times.
According to the municipal engineer, the remainder of the seven-story building will then be removed without the necessity of road closures.
Residents have continued to complain about the ongoing work. Because of the road closures, traffic was rerouted from Witherspoon Street, including NJ Transit buses, autos as well as large trucks. Local resident Anita Garoniak described “a terrible weekend on Harris Road.” Ms. Garoniak captured on video a tractor trailer attempting to turn onto Harris Road, a maneuver that she described as “dangerous and disruptive.”
“My weekend was filled with disturbances of this kind and traffic circling my house,” said Ms. Garoniak. “I was hoping that this rainy Sunday would offer some respite only to find with much dismay that the usual Sunday reprieve from the demolition noise did not occur.”
Developer AvalonBay is planning a 280-unit apartment complex but it may be some time before the demolition site turns into a construction site.
“After the last of the building comes down, there will still be work to be done removing the foundation, which is expected to take another six weeks,” said Mr. Kiser, adding that “AvalonBay is poised to start construction sometime in late March.”
Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller was to meet informally last night with residents who live near the demolition site to hear their concerns relating to road closures, debris, noise and dust.