The 86-year-old West Hartford Public Schools building is being carefully demolished over the next several weeks.
By Ronni Newton
The demolition of the old Charter Oak International Academy building began in earnest Monday morning, and while the process is not as dramatic as an implosion or knock-down with a wrecking ball, the heavy equipment is already making quick progress taking down the structure.
West Hartford Director of Plant and Facilities Bob Palmer said demolition will take about three weeks, and will be complete before students arrive Aug. 31 for the first day of school in the brand new building, although some of the debris may still need to be removed from the site.
“We knew there would be about four to five weeks of environmental abatement,” Palmer said, which needed to take place before the old building could be demolished. That work could not begin until the building was vacated in mid June. Prior to the demolition, all of the utilities had to be shut off and capped, and the windows were also removed from the school building.
Although the work is slightly behind schedule, Palmer said he is confident it will be done before the kids return.
The scene was noisy as a CAT 374 with a grapple pulled down the brick wall of the south side of the building and made headway with the walls of what were formerly classrooms.
A 330 UHD – an ultra-high demolition excavator – was handling some of the smaller tasks like removing the brick parapet from the roof.
Dana Zewinski, from J.R. Vinagro Corporation, said that the two machines will do the demolition while three other pieces of equipment are used to load the debris for removal. Zewinski estimated that the building weighs a total of 8,000 tons.
“Most is going to our C and D [construction and demolition] yard in Rhode Island,” Zewinski said of the debris.
One J.R. Vinagro employee had the task of spraying water as the machinery deconstructed the building, keeping the dust at bay.
A few passers-by stopped on the sidewalk, watching the demolition which is visible from Flatbush Avenue.
Palmer said that great progress continues to be made readying the new Charter Oak International Academy building for occupancy later this month. The second floor is completely done, he said, and furniture is being delivered. Teachers’ materials that have been in storage in a Windsor warehouse are in the process of being returned to the now-ready classrooms.
Landscaping will be the final phase, he said.
Teachers and staff will be able to return in mid-August, and students will arrive for classes in the brand new building – West Hartford’s first new elementary school building in more than 50 years – on Aug. 31, 2016.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!