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Port High demolition to begin next week PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 12 July 2017 18:27

Oldest part of school to be taken down to clear way for new construction

    The demolition of the central part of Port Washington High School — including the original building opened in 1931 — is scheduled to begin next week to clear the way for the construction of a new gym, commons, cafeteria and music rooms.
    But don’t expect explosions, implosions or wrecking balls, school officials said this week. Instead, machines equipped with claws will pull the building down, working from the back, or south side, of the school to the front.
   PORT LG The process is expected to take two to three months, Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber said.
    “It will go slow because they will have to sort through the rubble,” he said, noting that some of the material will be recycled.
    A number of exterior bricks will also be saved and offered to the public as keepsakes.
    “We’ll probably pile the bricks in front of the school and let community members  know they are welcome to take one,” Weber said. “It will be a nice memento for people who went to school there.”
     In a nod to the history of the school, an original wall adjacent to the auditorium and an archway that was once the east-facing main entrance to the school will be saved and incorporated into the new school.
    The demolition will extend from that wall west roughly to the existing gym, which is being retained for use as an auxiliary athletic venue. In addition to the auditorium and gym, the Washington Heights building and technology-education wing will be retained.
    “There are mixed emotions when you get to a point in the project like this, but there just comes a time when a facility doesn’t meet the current needs,” Weber said.
    The demolition will mark the second phase of the $45.6 million high school project. The first phase, construction of a three-story, hillside academic wing on the northwest side of the school, was finished in late April.
    “People who have gone through the academic wing realize how necessary these changes are when they see the educational potential of our new facilities,” Weber said.
    The high school project was approved by voters in April 2015 as part of a $49.9 million school improvement referendum that also included $3.8 million for an addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School. That addition, as well as new parking lots, were essentially completed in December, and with the recent installation of tile and carpeting, the school will host an open house and dedication on Aug. 30.
    Although the exterior demolition of Port High has yet to begin, the interior of the oldest part of school, often referred to as First Building, has been stripped of anything salvageable or recyclable and windows have been removed. Asbestos abatement is being completed and a construction fence is expected to be erected later this week.
    “Once the staff moved everything out of the classrooms, the condition of the building became even more apparent,” Weber said. “Posters and pictures were covering up a lot of issues.”
    The interior work has revealed glimpses of the school’s history and illustrations of how it grew building by building since 1931. Among the history revealed was the old auditorium, whose arched ceiling was hidden when the space was converted into science classrooms long ago.
    Also soon to be lost to demolition is a more recent chapter in the school’s history —  messages spray painted on interior walls and floors by seniors shortly before classes ended last month as part of a school-sanctioned “senior prank.”
    When students return to school on Sept. 1, they will move into the new academic wing, which is isolated from the work area on the other end of the building. To further mitigate the impact of demolition, which will likely extend into October, debris will be hauled away via an access road on the south side of the school to Webster Street.
    The demolition is scheduled to be completed in time for the foundation and footings for the new parts of the school to be poured before cold weather sets in, Weber said.




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