Urbana Local School’s Superintendent Charles Thiel explains that the actual demolition of East Elementary School will take about a week, but the cleaning of the ground will take longer. STAFF/RILEY NEWTON

Demolition begins on East Elementary School in Urbana

Demolition of Urbana’s 63-year-old East Elementary building has begun as part of the district’s $36 million bond issue that resulted in new schools for the city.

After demolition of the school is completed, the site will be converted into green space, according to Urbana Local Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel.

“The plan that we have for the land is for it to be used for a marching band practice field for our high school,” Thiel said.

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Demolition could begin only after asbestos had been removed. The demolition is being completed by Fillmore Construction, a Leesburg-based company being paid $291,350, according to a contract.

It’s being paid for with a portion of the 2014 bond issue passed to building new Urbana schools. The district opened a new high school building in the spring of 2018 and opened its new, combined middle school and elementary school in the fall.

Tearing down of the building will take about a week, Thiel said, but the process of making the land usable will take a little longer.

“Right now they are working on separating building materials like concrete and bricks,” Thiel said. “Then, after that, it will take another four or five weeks of actually getting the ground prepared and removing the foundation.”

Thiel said that he hopes to have the ground ready and re-seeded by the spring.

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Before demolition, the first thing that was done was removal of asbestos, Thiel said. Because of the age of the building, the school was described as a ‘hot building,’ according to Thiel.

“There was a lot of asbestos in the building that they had to take care of first,” Thiel said. “The glue that held the chalkboards, had asbestos in it, the floors, the ceilings.”

Asbestos is found naturally in rocks and soil, and is commonly used in things like vinyl floor titles, insulation and shingles. Breathing in the fibers over extended periods of time can be dangerous, which is why construction crews worked to remove it from the property before demolition took place.

The demolition bid covers the demolition cost of East Elementary and Local Intermediate Elementary School. Demolition has not yet been scheduled for Intermediate Elementary School.

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No students were attending East Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year. All Urbana elementary and middle school aged students were moved at the beginning of the school year to attend Urbana Elementary, the district’s new pre-K through 8th grade school.

Opened in 1955, East Elementary School, located at 630 Washington Ave in Urbana, has served the community well over the years, Thiel said.

“It’s kinda sad to see the building come down because it’s been here for quite some time,” Thiel said. “It was a building that served its purpose and was a good building for the district, but it’s just one of those things where we have no use for it. It has seen its time.”

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