Demolition of Owego Elementary School has begun
Demolition of the Owego Elementary School began on Monday and following a brief press conference delivered by Dr. Bill Russell, Owego-Apalachin superintendent. The 9 a.m. press conference outlined the demolition plans, and welcomed those who came by to say goodbye to their old school.
The building, which was destroyed in the September 2011 flood, has been divided into sections during the abatement process, according to Russell, and the western-most section was the first portion of OES to be taken down.
"Monday will be a good day, but a sad day," said Dr. Russell. "This will provide a milestone, a visible sign that we're moving forward, and that after 20 months of working 'on paper' after the disaster, this is happening, and that's very exciting."
"At the same time, this has been the elementary school in the community since 1965," he added, "with generations of families, students, teachers, employees â¦ all spending such an important part of their lives inside that building."
One of those standing by to watch the demolition begin was Penny Zandy, who served as an elementary teacher for 17 years and as principal from 1990 to 1999.
Standing nearby the site, a tearful Zandy said that she was watching the demolition with mixed emotions.
"It was a wonderful building filled with wonderful students," said Zandy.
Also nearby on Monday was Carol Stuble. Struble served the school district for 45 years, and was the first secretary to arrive at the former elementary school in 1965. Struble also had mixed emotions.
"So many memories...so many kids have gone through here," Struble stated as the first walls of the flooded school began to crumble.
On a brighter side, Struble also stated that she is excited to see what the new school will look like, and will be happy to see the students return. Since the flood of 2011, Owego Elementary School students have been attending school at Linnaeus W West in Endicott, N.Y. Fifth grade students were moved to the middle school.
William Motsko, former principal of the Owego Elementary School, serving from 1986 to 1991, also arrived on Monday to watch the demolition begin. Motsko described the demolition as "nostalgic". "There's no coming back," Motsko added, "but what's resurrecting is going to be great."
Carol Williams, of Owego, N.Y., has two sons that attended the elementary school in Owego; and although she wasn't at the demolition on Monday, she talked about it later.
"There is a wall in that school that carries memories for my children, and when they attended there," said Williams. "It's too bad I couldn't go back and see that wall again," she added, "it will be demolished soon."
There were a handful of students at the site on Monday and Laura Pawlak, fifth grade student, was one of them.
Pawlak stated that she attended the elementary school for four years, and described the demolition of it as sad. "It's hard to watch it go," Pawlak added.
Pawlak, along with other fifth grade students, were moved to the middle school because of limited space at Linnaeus W West, the school where the elementary school students will remain until the new school is constructed - an approximate two year process.
Lend Lease will oversee the demolition. Gorick Construction has been in the Owego Elementary School for the past few weeks performing abatement work. Gorick will perform the actual demolition, as well.
Dr. Russell stated that the demolition process will take several weeks. The next area to be demolished, Dr. Russell added, is the area by the playground.
Dr. Russell hopes that construction will begin by mid-August, and estimated the project will take approximately two years. Construction of the $60 million school will be funded by FEMA and State funds. The building will be raised a few feet and half of it will be two stories. It will also feature state of the art technology and construction design.
The school will be constructed at the same location on Sheldon-Guile Boulevard in Owego, N.Y.