The landscape of Fayette’s northeast side is about to change drastically. The three-story school and old gymnasium, the new addition and new gymnasium—everything will be gone before long as demolition gets underway this week.
Satisfaction runs high with the new K-12 school on Gamble Road. Students, school staff members and parents are all pleased and proud of the new structure.
Still, that doesn’t make letting go of the old building any easier for many district residents. Thousands of children have spent a good share of their childhood in the old school during the 80-year history of the structure.
It’s served the community well and still would be today if not for the decision to build. After contamination was detected in ground water flowing across school property, the decision to construct a new school was made—a choice aided by the attractive incentive of having 81 percent of the construction costs covered by a state fund.
The unattractive side of the decision is the agreement that all of the school buildings be demolished. DH Holdings, the company overseeing the cleanup of contamination on the adjacent industrial land, insisted that everything must come down. That was included in the $3.4 million settlement with the school board.
With this requirement, even the structures built new in 1998 will fall—despite the fact that they aren’t yet paid for. The settlement funds will cover most of the millage, but it’s a shame those highly-usable buildings couldn’t have been saved.
The second part of DH’s request is equally difficult for many residents to take. Nothing can be constructed on the property—at least not anything in need of a foundation. The land is to remain a green space suitable only for additional park land.
We’re not trying to dig up old misgivings over the project. No digging is necessary; they’re lying right on the surface for some district residents.
But in a few weeks, it will be all over. The rubble will have been carted away for recycling and the area will be seeded for grass. Cleanup will continue at the factory site, but any concerns about contamination on school land will be laid to rest, as will any last hopes for using the buildings and property in the future.