By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
Demolition has started on the former Horace Mann School, and crews are continuing with asbestos abatement before the facility is brought down.
"Asbestos abatement should be completed by Thursday," said Nathan McKenna, city projects manager. "The gym area has been done, and they will start actual demolition on that part of the building."
Bids for demolition of the former school and community building were approved by the city council in April, coming in at $375,980 — well under the projected cost of $596,000. The bid for asbestos abatement was awarded to Talbert ICS and the demolition bid was awarded to Green Trac.
"The city had the property for 12 years, and got nine years of use from the property and the building has also provided a value to the community and its citizens as long as we were able to maintain it," City Manager Ron Neibert previously said. "We are fortunate the bids came in some $200,000 under the budgeted projection."
The council decided to move forward with demolition of the building in February, a few months after an environmental report indicated the building had black mold and friable asbestos. The city closed the facility to the public in 2009, after black mold was discovered.
The city received the deed for the property from Mt. Vernon City Schools Distict 80 in 2002, after the district consolidated its schools into the Primary Center, J.L. Buford Intermediate Center and Casey Middle School. The property was used by the city as a community center until its closure.
Horace Mann School alumnus have held special events to commemorate the history of the facility in anticipation of its demolition. District 80 has also done a walk-through and will be keeping a cornerstone and other elements as historical momentos from the former school.
The city will be offering about 300 bricks from the school for alumni and residents to have as their own keepsakes, McKenna said.
"We are having about 300 bricks cleaned and palleted for us so people who want to can come and get one," McKenna said. "At this time, we don't know when they will be ready, but we will be letting the public know when that happens."