More than four years after voters approved the money to build new Northwestern Local Schools buildings, the final phase of the project is underway with the demolition of the district’s three old structures.
The old Northwestern High School, built in 1975, has already come down at the campus on Troy Road in German Twp. The 1956 middle school was demolished this week and debris will be cleared by the end of March. Demolition of the elementary school, built in 1950, is slated to begin today, weather permitting. That process is expected to be completed by April 10.
Northwestern Superintendent Tony Orr said once the demolition is complete, space will be freed up to replace sports fields and other amenities that were removed during construction of the new elementary and junior/senior high buildings. That construction was completed in August.
The entire project, including the demolition, was budgeted at $51 million. About 45 percent of the cost was picked up by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.
“We are certainly on target with our budget,” Orr said. “We are very pleased with the transformation of our campus.”
Eric Ebbs, a 1994 Northwestern graduate who lives next door the schools, said he’s also glad to see positive changes. But he’s sad to see the schools he attended from second grade on torn down.
“A lot of emotions come to mind,” he said. “It’s always good to see changes; it just hurts a little bit to see the old go.”
Ebbs hopes the new schools will as long as the old buildings, but he’s skeptical.
“I don’t think they’ll last anywhere close to as long as the schools we had here,” he said.
Part of the newly cleared section of the 122-acre campus will be regraded to allow for soccer and multipurpose fields.
One portion will hold a retention pond, and most of the area where the high school used to stand will be paved for parking, Orr said.
Crews will begin a road-widening project to complete the school’s entrance from Ohio 41 this month. That project will require access from the highway to be closed for several months, beginning the week of March 24. The two new school buildings will only be accessible from Penny Pike through June.
Orr said the district anticipates some initial congestion.
“Students and community members will need to adjust to the changes,” he said.
The demolition crew has been putting “memory bricks” from the old school buildingsoutside of the construction fence. Anyone who wants to take one as a memento can pick one up free.
The only other element from the old buildings that is being salvaged is the original lettering from the high school, which will adorn the events entrance of the new building.