District nears proposal for demolition of old high schoolLittle by little, floors and ceiling tiles, doors and desks are exiting the old Two Harbors high School as the steady process of readying the building for demolition continues.
By: Forrest Johnson, Lake County News Chronicle
Little by little, floors and ceiling tiles, doors and desks are exiting the old Two Harbors high School as the steady process of readying the building for demolition continues.
According to Lake Superior School District superintendent Phil Minkkinen, all but a handful of items remain in the way of starting the demo work, aimed at getting underway on or before April 1.
The building is essentially a shell of its former self.
The district will likely hire a private contractor in the next several weeks to handle the actual demolition work at the site, a little difference in the original plan that would’ve seen much of that work done by Lake County. Minkkinen said the district is awaiting proposals from contractors.
County highway crews will still be involved in the job, hauling the concrete and brick to a site at the county garage in Two Harbors for crushing and possible reuse as fill.
The district has hired 8-12 workers that have been busy removing carpeting, ceiling tiles, hardwood flooring and trim. Work is still to be done in about a third of the main floor of the building and auditorium chairs still need to be removed. Community service workers have also been at the school to help and Minkkinen said that there’s been “a lot of deconstrution going on” at the site. He estimated that so far around 200 yards of construction waste has headed to the demolition landfill at Castle Danger.
“I’m pretty impressed by the amount of work that’s been done,” said Minkkinen. “There are always questions about a project like this but I think things are on track.”
One of those questions involves estimating just how much work it will take to raze and remove the building, though one of the proposals estimated that it would likely take about 8 weeks to finish the job.
There are pretty descriptive building layouts available from the work done back in 1937-38 by the New Deal agency, the Works Progress Administration. What isn’t so clearly defined is just how much concrete and steel went into the footings and foundation of the building.
“There are no details of the footings and posts, the underground stuff,” said Minkkinen. “We don’t know if the footings are four-foot deep, four-foot thick. We just don’t know. But we’ll work through that.”
The only hazardous material still of concern is in the elevator and removal of that has been scheduled with a licensed elevator contractor. The hazardous waste, including the already completed asbestos removal portion of the project, is being handled by McNeil Environmental.
Minkkinen also said that he just received calls from several people apparently interested in a reuse of the building, though he hasn’t had a definitive answer from them about how strong their interest actually is.
Cost estimates have put the pricetag to raze, remove and landscape the property at around $407,000, though that number could fluctuate depending on the agreements between the district and contractor over rebates from salvage materials. If the building is torn down and the land rehabilitated, the district is expecting to sell up to 12 lots to help recoup the costs of the project.
“The end of the story is that when it’s all said and done we hope to break even,” he said. “What more can you ask?”