Demolition starts soon on Wellington’s old McCormick Middle School

By Catherine Gabe -

You’d never suspect demolition is well under way at McCormick Middle School by looking at it from the outside.

Right now, the focus is on asbestos abatement and it’s all an inside job.

It’s also the first step in a lengthy process, said Bill Skaggs, superintendent for Ozanne Construction, which is overseeing the entire project.

Nearly the entire building has been abated and contractors are now moving on to the solid walls and ceilings.

That’s where additional asbestos was discovered between the walls and roof in the band room and where the maintenance truck was stored. Contractors are working out how to safely remove the materials.

Simply taking the asbestos out from the rooftop would have meant building a dome so the dangerous material wouldn’t fly away. Instead, contractors are looking at cutting the asbestos into pieces, wrapping it, and carrying it out.

“This material is actually between the roof and the joists,” said Wellington schools business manager Tim Wulfhoop. “So it was something they couldn’t see until they got in there. But it is pretty friable, very dangerous material so they are working with us to find the best solution to that.”

As it is, the additional asbestos will increase the demolition costs by about $130,000. “Fortunately we are still within our budget, but it’s not what I wanted to hear that day,” said school superintendent Dennis Mock. “But our budget is narrowing.”

School treasurer Michael Pissini said, “We are within the budget, but we are very, very close. I’m worried because during the demolition they usually find something and I’m nervous because the demolition hasn’t even started yet. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that all goes will with that.”

When the asbestos abatement is completed, windows should start to be removed, said Skaggs. Then demolition can start this week or next.

That’s when you’ll be able to see what’s happening outside. Lots of machinery will be on site including skid loaders and grapplers with jaws on them. They’ll chomp away at the structure until only the bearing walls are left.

Then workers will move in with the huge excavators with grapplers to eat away at the remaining structure. Any walls still left will be taken out to dumpsters and hauled off the refuse.

Once they get down to the ground, the foundation will be dug up. But the project still won’t be complete.

A mound of dirt from the McCormick Middle School construction sits behind the new school. That dirt will be moved over to the old building to fill the hole.

Another part of the demolition will be setting out bricks for the public to take.

Skaggs said his crews are working with the district to target the dates, which will be publicized. Over a two or three-day period, bricks will be set out during a specific time.

“We have to do it in a limited time frame to do it in a safe manner with the public,” he said. Each day the bricks will have to be wheeled out for public access and then taken back to a gated area overnight. “We have to be conscious of vandalism,” Skaggs said.

The demolition, hauling away materials, and infilling with dirt should take eight to 10 weeks.

“Everything has to systematically be taken down, we can’t just go in there and rip it all down,” Skaggs said.

Don’t expect an implosion or a wrecking ball, but instead methodical progress.

“No one sees what’s going on now, it’s all intrenal,” Skaggs said. “When people see machinery taking down the building that’s when the public will be more involved.”

Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.

By Catherine Gabe