By Jeff Gallatin
School and city officials expect the razing of the former middle school annex to be completed this week and a new traffic pattern in the area to be ready within a “couple of weeks.”
Workers from Sitetech, a Grafton firm, began the demolition work last Thursday and had the project well under way Monday.
“It’s going really well; they already were more than halfway done by this morning,” North Olmsted Middle School Principal Tom Dreiling said. “They’ve been making excellent progress and could be done with the actual building demolition work by Wednesday. Then, they can start clearing out the rubble.”
School officials devised the proposal to bring down the annex building, which was last used for any district educational purposes about a decade ago, to help provide a better traffic pattern for school buses and parents’ vehicles dropping off and picking up students in the middle school area. There have been complaints for many years about the traffic congestion caused at the beginning and end of the school days.
With the new school year starting today, Superintendent Mike Zalar said the project will benefit the district.
“It should make it a lot smoother for people going through that area,” he said. “People in the district have put together a good plan, which should make it easier for students and their families and the district.”
Zalar said, weather cooperating, the workers should be able to finish razing the building, clear away the debris and then get the area around the middle school ready for the increased vehicular traffic and parking changes.
“Right now, it looks like they can get that done within the next couple of weeks,” he said. “It would have been nice to get it all done by the start of the school year, but we should be all right since they had a contingency plan for dealing with the traffic until the new area is set up. The city has also been a big help throughout the process with the planning, demolition and site security.”
Scott Thomas, the safety service director for the city of North Olmsted, said the city has been glad to assist.
“We’re having an officer going in there regularly for safety reasons after someone got in there when they shouldn’t,” he said. “Fortunately, nothing serious happened, but you could have something falling or someone going down and getting injured, and no one wants that. There are no-trespassing signs posted, so we’ll be keeping eye on it.”
Thomas said the new traffic pattern will benefit the entire city, not just the schools.
“It will be safer and ensure a better traffic flow,” he said. “and it’s exciting to see the schools better themselves and the city.”
Dreiling said the alternate plan should be fine until the area is ready for the new traffic pattern.
“We’re fortunate because it’s similar to what we did when we changed the busing pickups for a few months,” he said.
In the temporary plan, people will be entering and exiting the west parking lot area with their vehicles while using the east entrance to enter the building on foot.
“We should be fine until the new area is ready,” Dreiling said. “We’re excited about the new school year and the different changes which will make it better for the students.”