BREWER, Maine — Longtime Brewer resident Carol Rohn, whose three children were educated at Pendleton Street School, had mixed emotions on Monday as the condemned school was torn down to make room for a new $39.5 million elementary-middle school.
“It is sad to see it go because it was a neighborhood school,” she said. “I have a lot of wonderful, wonderful memories. It was a very special school in my books.”
A groundbreaking for the new school will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, and the public is invited to attend.
Rohn said she is thrilled that the community is getting a new school, and added that in her eyes it was time for the old school to come down. Roof problems at Pendleton Street School, built in 1957, closed it in 2005.
“It had reached the point of no return,” said Rohn, who is an administrative assistant for Superintendent Daniel Lee. “It was sad to see it in the state it was in.”
Sargent Corp. of Old Town was hired to tear down the former school, which sits on the corner of Parkway South and Pendleton Street.
The new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, which when complete will be the largest elementary-middle school in the state, will replace four aging elementary schools and Brewer Middle School, all built between 1926 and 1962.
The new school, which will have separate wings for the different age groups with shared areas in the middle for such things as the cafeteria and media center or library, will have 71 classrooms, house 1,050 students and will include a $2.6 million performing arts center.
The new school comes with two student drop-off areas, 177 parking spaces and an area for an additional 46 spaces set aside for the future or whenever funds become available.
The new two-story, 156,000-square-foot school is expected to be completed in late 2010.
At Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, cadets from Brewer High School’s Junior ROTC program will present the colors, the school’s band will play and a couple of speeches are planned, Lee said.
“We’ve tried to notify as many people as we can” to invite them, he said. “It should be fun.”
Jerry Goss, chairman of the Brewer High School district trustees and member of the new school building committee, said that after years of working on the school’s plans, it is great to see work being done at the site.
“It’s exciting we’re now getting out of the planning stage,” he said.
Phase one of the project involves the demolition of the school and the removal of the outdoor running track, which will be replaced with an eight-lane track with bleachers and a storage facility on another part of the nearly 20-acre site. The Thomas Caldwell Rink, an outdoor ice rink, was removed by Public Works crews several weeks ago.
“There is going to be quite a bit of earth work in that area” before the Dec. 19 phase one deadline, Lee said. “By next spring, [whoever wins the bid to construct the school] can just put the foundation in and begin erecting the building.”
“We’ll hit the ground, in the spring, running,” Goss said. “It will save us quite a bit of money” not to begin construction this winter. “It delays it a couple of months, but when you can save that kind of money it makes it all worth it.”
Goss added, “I’ll be really excited when we turn the key.”