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Litchfield demolition beginning

12/13/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

To minimize the impact on students and staff at the adjacent Firestone High School, a chain link construction fence has been installed around the boarded-up Litchfield Middle School, as shown in this photo taken Dec. 6.
Demolition of the Litchfield Middle School building began this week. It is one of the first phases of a major Akron Public Schools’ project to rebuild both Litchfield and Firestone High School on the schools’ campus along Fairfax Road.
Photos: Kathleen Folkerth
WEST AKRON — Activity is picking up this month at the old Litchfield Middle School building adjacent to Firestone High School.

Paul Flesher, executive director of Facility Services and Capital Improvements for the Akron Public Schools, said demolition of the school was expected to begin this week.

Abatement of the building is complete, and with good weather and the planned shutoff of utilities, the structure will be ready to come down, Flesher said.

“We’ll use a backhoe to take the walls down,” he said. “It will all come down into one pile, then they’ll start hauling the pile off.”

He said hauling the rubble will likely take longer than tearing down the building. The site should be cleared by March, Flesher said.

To minimize the impact on students and staff at Firestone High School, a chain link construction fence has been installed around Litchfield. All work and heavy machinery will be contained within that area, Flesher said.

The demolition is one of the first phases of a major project to rebuild both Litchfield and Firestone on the schools’ present campus along Fairfax Road. This fall, Litchfield students and staff began holding classes at the former Perkins Middle School building on Mull Avenue. The district is providing busing to students who live in the Firestone Cluster, Flesher said.

APS officials said the Litchfield building was completed in 1959 and was added onto in 1964. Firestone was completed in 1962 and had additions in 1980 and 1983.

In January, the district will likely host a community meeting on the design of the new buildings’ exteriors, Flesher said.

“The floor plan has been finalized with staff and everyone,” Flesher said. “We’re working on exterior elevations for the look of the buildings and working through various proposals.”

Eventually, construction of the new buildings will begin on what is now the campus’ athletic fields, but Flesher said he expects students will be able to use that area through at least the end of this school year.

Site work will likely begin in late spring on some of the property, he added.

“The target date is to start construction this summer, and two years later, in July 2015, be complete with the buildings,” Flesher said.

District athletic officials are currently working with school administrators to develop plans for alternative practice fields in the area for students, he added.

Litchfield and Firestone students would begin attending school in the new buildings in fall 2015. Work at the site would continue that school year, as the old Firestone building would then be abated and demolished and the site cleared for the new athletic fields.

Flesher said the Litchfield and Firestone buildings are Nos. 30 and 31 in the district’s expansive rebuilding project. The close proximity of the construction site to an active school is something the district has experience with from other projects, he said, most notably at Buchtel High School and Crouse Community Learning Center (CLC).

Flesher added that having the Litchfield community relocated during the construction is also a positive thing, as it frees up space in the parking lot and means there’s less congestion in that area.

In related news, Flesher added that the new King CLC on Memorial Parkway is proceeding and expected to be ready for students in the fall.

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