This piece was originally published by theYale Daily News and is reposted here with permission.
The cranes that were recently hoisted up to Yale’s skyline—towering above a pit teeming with machinery and workers in hardhats—look to students like a sign of things to come, a tangible reminder that today’s Yale is not tomorrow’s. To New Haven’s construction workers, the cranes symbolize an opportunity.
The $500 million construction project for Yale’s two new residential colleges is among the largest in Connecticut history, and the massive undertaking has already resulted in a payment of $7.6 million in permit fees to the city of New Haven. By expanding Yale’s footprint northward, the new colleges could alter the composition of the adjacent Dixwell neighborhood, spurring new development or raising the specter of gentrification. But perhaps the most immediate effects of the project will be felt by those residents currently battling snow and frozen ground to lay the foundations for Yale’s first expansion of the undergraduate population in nearly 60 years.
Before the college doors open in August 2017, at least 125 New Haven residents will be employed on the construction site in some capacity, according to Nichole Jefferson, executive director of the Commission on Equal Opportunities, which works to ensure publicly funded construction projects employ minority and female construction workers, as well as New Haven residents.
“Truthfully, the city is ecstatic,” Jefferson said. “The administration and all the residents, because they may have the chance to work on that site. Representatives of Dimeo, the contractor overseeing construction, declined to comment to the News and deferred questions to Yale administrators. Based on the size of the project, however, Jefferson estimated that roughly 700 workers will be involved. Fifty to 60 subcontractors—including J.L. Marshall & Sons, Inc. of Massachusetts, Manafort Bros. of Plainville, Conn, Ducci Electrical of Torrington, Conn., and Suzio York Hill of New Haven—will work on various aspects of the new buildings, from delivering concrete for the foundation to installing electrical wiring, according to Jefferson.
Federal law requires all construction projects receiving federal funding to ensure that 25 percent of work hours are performed by minority construction workers and 6.9 percent by women. Additionally, New Haven law requires projects that receive city dollars to reserve 25 percent of work hours for New Haven residents.