AUGUSTA — Blasting is about to begin for the Maine National Guard’s new headquarters on Civic Center Drive near the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery.

Nearby property owners and tenants received blast notices this week in the form of letters from Maine Drilling & Blasting, of Gardiner, the firm doing the blasting work.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the 100,000-square-foot Joint Forces Headquarters for both the Army and the Air Guard in Maine took place in late August.

A site blasting permit was issued on Sept. 8 by Gary Fuller, an Augusta code enforcement officer.

Matt Nazar, director of development services for the city, said Friday that the permit indicates there will be six blasts. He also said that dates for blasting often are weather-driven.

“For construction purposes, we allow those to be slightly different from the date they provide,” he said.


Documents filed along with the permit application indicate the site for the blasts is near the construction yard that was created farther north along Civic Center Drive.

“When I saw the blasting notice, it wasn’t clear where they’re going to be doing that blasting,” said Shirley Ezzy, who lives in one of the homes near the property. “I’d like more specifics about where and when it’s going to be. People need to be prepared.”

Ezzy said she remembered when blasting was done to put in the Marketplace at Augusta.

“This is even closer,” she said. “We may well feel it. I just hope it doesn’t crack anything, the foundation or the walls.”

Ruth Babcock’s house overlooks the project’s construction yard, and a representative of Maine Drilling & Blasting Inc., went to her property to take photographs of the home’s foundation in anticipation of the blasting.

Nazar said pre-blast surveys, including photographs of structures prior to the blasts, can help later if there are concerns or complaints about damage.


“If there is damage, the blaster’s insurance company is usually called in,” he said.

Babcock, who has lived in the home for 47 years, said her property line abuts the veterans’ cemetery itself and that ledge runs across her land. Piles of heavy black blasting mats, which are used to keep debris and rocks from flying through the air as a result of the explosions, are clearly visible from her backyard.

“The blasting is going to be quite minor, less than 1,000 cubic yards,” said Karleton S. Ward, president and CEO of Nickerson & O’Day, Inc., the construction management contractor, in a telephone message left Friday. He said he expected it to take place over about a three-week period.

“There will be very small blasts so as not to disturb folks,” said Ward, who is also a Republican state representative from Dedham.

He also said the site still was being cleared and excavated and that the heavy rain in midweek had little effect on the progress. The major construction work, including the foundation, is expected to begin in the spring.

Ward also said the site had been inspected by the Department of Environmental Protection.


The city’s Blasting Ordinance limits project blasting to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and not on holidays. It also requires mailing a notice of the blasting to all property owners with 300 feet of the blasting area, which must be done five days in advance, or hand-delivering notices at least two days in advance.

A second round of notification is required 24 hours in advance and can be done by telephone or by hanging notices on doors.

That notice must specify the time within an hour of the proposed blasting period. The letter distributed to abutters this week says no explosives will be stored at the site overnight and that those nearby “may experience low levels of ground vibration.”

Two residents who live near a quarry off West River Road complained last month about a May blast conducted by Maine Drilling and Blasting that they say caused damage to floors and walls in their homes. A company spokeswoman said at the time that she could not comment on the details of their claims, but that the company works “very hard with customers, communities and the general public to best manage appropriate blasting services.” A letter sent to one of the residents said the company determined that it did not cause damage to the homes.

When it comes to the National Guard project, both Ezzy and Babcock said that the Guard and project personnel have respected and responded to their concerns.

“The people at the National Guard have been very community-conscious, and they told us what the schedule was, and we met the woman in charge of the project,” Ezzy said. “They’ve really been trying to be considerate of the neighbors, especially those beyond the entrance of the Maine veterans’ cemetery, and they know we have not been terribly supportive of this.”


Previously, Lt. Col. Normand Michaud, project manager for the Guard, indicated that the $32 million building is expected to be completed in late 2017 and occupied in 2018. It is to be named Camp Chamberlain and house much of what is at Camp Keyes in Augusta.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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