Construction Begins: An Important Message from our Executive Director

Dear Friend of Common Ground,

We’ve arrived at an exciting and important moment. As you drive by Common Ground’s site over the next days and weeks, you will begin to see big changes. After more than two years of careful planning and mobilizing our generous community, we are ready to break ground on important improvements to our site.

When we are done, a new school building at the base of our campus – home to two science labs, an art studio, and a half court gym – will give our students the learning environment they deserve. Around this building, we will grow new habitat gardens and outdoor classrooms, model low-impact design, and make critical renovations to our current school building. We see our campus as a resource for the entire community, and we look forward to sharing this resource with you. To learn more, visit

We want to reach out before these changes begin – because we think these changes are going to create an amazing resource for our entire community, and also because we don’t want you to be surprised as these changes begin. We know these changes will impact how we all access and use the site in the short term.

Here is what you can expect:

  • At the end of the second week of October, you will begin to see trees come down along Springside Avenue as we clear and lower the berm (hill) that runs between our garden and the street. The new entrance to our site will be cut through the middle of this berm, and preliminary grading will take place to create a new topography that will capture and infiltrate storm-water runoff from the site. The work should not impact traffic on Springside Avenue but will be clearly visible from the street.
  • Once the berm work is completed, some further clearing and grading will take place just south of our harvest pavilion and garden (between the garden and the driveway) that will allow us to create additional storm water management features including an educational wetland and rain garden.
  • The tree removal phase of this work should take between 5 and 7 days followed by the grading work.  All this should be completed by approximately December 1st. When work is underway construction fencing will be used to create safe passage for students, staff and other visitors to our site. Parking on site will change from day to day depending upon where active work is taking place. Our first priority will be safety at every step in this process. 
  • When all of the tree removal and grading is completed disturbed areas will be stabilized and seeded for the winter. Erosion control measures will also be installed before grading of the area begins. Come Spring, we will complete an extensive re-landscaping and re-planting plan that will result in an overall improvement of the wildlife habitat here on our site.
  • Once this work is completed, we will begin construction on the new school building itself!

We are committed to being good neighbors, and keeping you informed throughout the construction process. Please consider this the first of regular updates on site improvements you will see in this blog.  The building project that will follow this initial site work will take approximately 12 months to complete. Our monthly email newsletter will include regular construction updates; if you do not already receive these updates, you can sign up using the form in the right column of this page.

We are working hard to minimize the short term impacts, while looking forward to the long term benefits this work will bring. Thank you for your patience and flexibility. Please let us know if there is anyone else we should be in touch with about these changes. If you have questions, or would like to express any concerns, please feel free to contact me. My phone number and email are included below.


Melissa Spear
Executive Director; 203-389-4333, ext. 1216


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