Ansonia’s Peck School being torn down
ANSONIA—The huge crane with his monster size teeth bit through brick, plaster and wood while opening a hole in what was once a second floor fourth grade classroom.
The overloaded mouth spit out pieces of wood and plaster as rubble rained down on the first floor second grade class room where Nora Sullivan spent years introducing students to reading, writing and arithmetic.
And by next week Peck School which for nearly 95 educated the city’s west side children and provided them an after school and summer spot to play basketball, fleece ball, kickball and volleyball, will be a rubble of memories.
“The outside was pretty bad,” said Ann Bogucki, an AECOM engineer overseeing the school’s razing by Standard Demolition Services of Trumbull. “The brick was crumbling probably from water running through the downspouts. The mortar was all gone.”
But Bogucki said the roof which was removed Tuesday “was pretty intact.”
On the street Mayor David Cassetti, Fifth Ward Aldermen Joseph Jaumann and Chicago Rivers,Third Ward Alderman Joseph Cassetti and Aldermanic President Lorie Vaccaro watched as residents occasionally came by to share memories as well as thoughts of what should replace Peck on the nearly acre size site.
“It’s bitter sweet,” said Cassetti who had the PUBLIC SCHOOL 1905 copper letters removed from Peck’s front, cleaned and hung on a wall in his city hall office. “My son (former Fifth Ward Alderman) Anthony went there for third and fourth grade. He loved it.”
But that was the 1990s. At the end of the 2000 school year, the city’s board of education decided to close the school, which once educated students from kindergarten through eighth grade..
It was purchased by C&H Management LLC of Beacon Falls.
For the next 17 years plans to turn the class rooms into condominiums, senior citizen or veteran’s housing were proposed but nothing ever materialized.
“The past administrations had a lot of chances to do many things with this building but instead let it sit here and deteriorate,” said Cassetti. “My administration took the time to look into remodeling it or demolishing it. Remodeling was too expensive.”
Meanwhile vandals and vagrants took their turns on the building covering the inside and outside with graffiti, breaking windows, stealing copper pipes and more.. Of the 80 windows outside only 17 remained unbroken.
“There’ve been a lot of issues here,” said Rivers, who with Jaumann represent the residents in the district.
By last summer C&H owed $45,955 in taxes and $12,507 in WPCA fees. Rather than wage what could have been a lengthy legal fight, the Board of Alderman chose to pay the owner $20,000 for the building and implement the city’s residents desire to demolish the building as approved in a 2013 referendum.
Standard’s $441,000 bid was lower than the $500,000 residents approved for demolition.
“With this down we can get some of the cars off the street now,” said Rivers of the school which rests in the middle of the multi-family residential Holbrook street.
But Jennifer Krampetz, a nearby resident walking with her two children, Elias, 4 and Eliana, 3, would rather see more.
“How about a park and playground?” she said. “I see a ton of kids in this neighborhood and a lot of them would use it. I know mine would.”
Sheila O’Malley, the city’s economic development director who was at the site with Anna Andretta, the city’s grants manager said it would be up to the Aldermen to determine ultimate use.
“Because public funds were used for the purchase and demolition, the reuse must be for a public purpose,” O’Malley said. “We’ll work with the Board of Aldermen and City Planner Dave Elder to look at possible options for this property. I think right now (we’re giving the residents) some badly needed breathing room.”
“This is a new beginning for the fifth ward,” said Jaumann, a Bridgeport lawyer who lives on Wakelee Avenue and is the Republican candidate for the 104th state representative seat.
A Standard Demolition worker said his crew spent last week removing mercury thermostats, light bulbs and asbestos.
“It was definitely abused inside,”he said. “People definitely had their fun.”