While the project that will tear down the dilapidated school on Willis Avenue and construct a new school for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes as well as house central administration offices was only in the planning stages for months, the demolition of the existing school is moving forward. Those driving by the abandoned school in recent days may have noticed the chain link fence that has been put around the school in preparation for its dismantling.
The district recently awarded the contract for the asbestos abatement and demolition of the existing school to Watral Construction. The specifications require an eight-foot chain-link fence around the property once the work starts. The fence was put up, but as of last Wednesday, gates still had to put in - one on the Jackson Avenue side and one on the Lincoln Avenue side. However, also as of Wednesday, there were four cars parked illegally in the parking lot. Mineola School District Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance John Jackson said the cars would be towed if they were not removed by Friday.
Once the property is completely sealed off, the abatement should begin in the first week of December since the contractor needs a 10-day clearance from Albany. The asbestos abatement should take approximately four to six weeks. Following the asbestos abatement, the building will be demolished. According to schedule, demolition should begin around the second week in January.
According to Jackson, the building will be demolished with a machine that goes inside the building and pulls the brick inward. "It's going to be a demolition machine that works from within the building and pulls the brick in toward the building to cut down on debris and dust. Everything will come inward rather than outward," he said.
Since the building is between two residential streets, demolition is a concern. The school district has been in contact with the Village of Mineola Board to collaborate on ways to maximize the safety in the area. "There won't be any debris flying around," Jackson said.
The demolition should take approximately six to eight weeks so it is scheduled to be completed sometime during the month of March. If everything goes according to schedule, Jackson said the construction of the new school could begin as early as June. Construction is expected to be a year-long process, which means the school could be occupied by the start of the 2003-2004 school year.