Community says goodbye to old school before demolition beginsPosted: April 19, 2017
by Erica Peterson
Community members gathered at the former middle school April 8 to say goodbye to the structure, which is being razed to make way for Heritage Park, a planned community greenspace.
The Independence Alumni Association and the Independence Historical society organized the event, “Thanks for the Memories,” in front of the school building at 6565 Brecksville Rd., as a way for the community to share stories about the building and take part in some group photos.
Mayor Anthony Togliatti said the city is coordinating with the historical society “to identify significant items to remove from the building before its demolition.”
The city plans to save the building’s entryway and incorporate it into the Heritage Park plans, he added.
Demolition planned for April 15
Council voted unanimously March 14 to accept a $397,400 bid from B&B Wrecking and Excavating to demolish the former school. Demo work was planned to begin April 15 and was expected to last around 50 days.
The city bought the building from the school district in 2002 and hasn’t used it for anything other than storage, Togliatti said.
The city stored archives and other records there, and St. Michael School kept sports equipment there, according to the mayor’s office.
The school building hasn’t been heated in years and has “fallen into a state of disrepair,” Togliatti said.
Councilperson Tom Narduzzi said the building “is deteriorating from the inside out, making it too costly to renovate or reconfigure for another use. Those avenues have been looked at for years without any viable interest from any developer.”
He said the demolition signals the start of “a major cleanup in our downtown area.”
The bid includes $242,400 for the demolition and $155,000 for the removal and disposal of any hazardous materials, like asbestos. Togliatti said it was around $200,000 below the city’s original estimates.
He said at a meeting March 21 that part of the reason for the “favorable pricing” is that this is the slow season for demolition. “If we delay it, we may run into some issues and some additional funds may be required for the project,” he said.
Councilperson Carl Asseff called the price “outstanding.”
“We set aside a million dollars, and now we have $600,000 for the Heritage Park without going to change the budget or anything else,” he said.
In January, council members discussed several ideas for the property. They are leaning toward preserving it as a functional greenspace.
Councilperson Bob Wagner said that though some people “had hoped that something else would happen to the school, I think the time for that to happen is long past. It has sat vacant for too long now, and it has no purpose now other than to be removed.”