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The Scaffolding Enigma

The+Scaffolding+Enigma
Ethan Liu

As a student arriving at Forest Hills, it’s easy to notice the various features of our school. Maybe it’s our iconic tower that beams with light in the nighttime. Or our tree-lined exterior and large field in the back, which many NYC schools lack. But for many, it’s easy to notice the massive scaffolding surrounding the entirety of the school. 

The scaffolding seems to have always been here at Hills. Seniors know that it’s been here since their sophomore year after remote learning, but it’s been around much longer. Mr. Reifler, a social studies teacher at Forest Hills and former student recounts his experiences with the scaffolding. When asked if he remembered any scaffolding back then, his reply? “Almost always.” 

“I feel like the scaffolding would go off, they would take it down, it would go back up, they would take it down,” said Mr. Reifler. Knowing the scaffolding has been around for over a decade makes this case even more intriguing. Honestly, why is it there? What are they even working on, and why is it taking so long?

There seems to be many theories about the scaffolding. Some say that they’re working on minor internal issues, that includes contractors giving longer time frames in case the project takes longer, and others even suggest the school somehow benefits financially by keeping the scaffolding up.

In an interview with Mr. Wilbur, our principal here at Hills, most of these questions were given answers. 

Regarding why they’re there, Mr. Wilbur said it’s for the safety of the students. “The concern is that [the tiles] could be picked up in a breeze,” he stated. To clarify, the scaffolding is there to prevent any tiles during construction from falling off and hitting anyone. This leads to the next question.

According to Mr. Wilbur, the project being worked on is the roof. “They’re looking to make sure the tiles on the roof are in place and appropriately fixed.” 

As to why it’s taking so long, the main issue illustrated by Mr. Wilbur is the time. The construction cannot progress if students are in the school. That means they can only work past 4 p.m. or on the weekends. Finally, does the school benefit financially from the scaffolding? Mr. Wilbur directly answered “no.” 

There are signs on the scaffolding with more information about the project. Whitestone Construction Corp are in charge of the construction. They’ve been around since 1983 and specialize in lights, walls, and glass. There is also a website stated on the sign, NYC Buildings. New York City gives public access to general information about projects such as recorded complaints and violations, actions, applications, and inspections. 

One way to access this information is a system called the Building Information Search (BIS). It is an online tool that’s available to anyone. If anyone is curious about the paperwork regarding the scaffolding and also has the Forest Hills High School Building Identification Number, feel free to use it and find out for yourself.

Ethan Liu
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Ethan Liu
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