By Seth Daniel
The last part of the old Chelsea High School, most recently the Clark Avenue Middle School, is coming down this month as demolition crews have moved onto the site and have begun taking down the old building.
The demo work is the first part of Phase 2 of the Clark Avenue Middle School project, which accompanies the first part of the new school project. Phase 1 opened in December and currently houses students. Phase 2 is expected to be completed in December 2018.
“The demo work on the last part of the old building is progressing,” said Gerry McCue of the Chelsea Public Schools. “That should be complete by the end of April. The the steel will go up and the construction will continue. The completion date for Phase 2 is August 2018.”
The Clark Avenue Middle School was formerly the old Chelsea High School for many years until the 1990s when it was moved to its current location. Many old time Chelsea residents have fond memories of the old building. McCue said they did their best to try to save pieces of the old school, but many of the more memorable items – such as the sculptures above the front door – were not salvageable.
“Those features above the front door were just too damaged over the years,” he said.
There will be a place in the new school that will recognize the old school, and several plaques from the old school will be hung back in the new school.
He said the quotation that used to be on the old school will be replicated in the courtyard area of the new school at the end of the project. That quote is, “Wisdom Is More Than Knowledge, Character Greater Than Power.”
The first phase of the project included building the first wing of the school opposite Clark Avenue. Students moved into that school in January, and so far the results are notable.
“There have been a lot of good reviews from students and staff so far,” McCue said. “The contractor is still working on the punch list items. Many have said that it was worth the wait to have a beautiful new space with up to date technology and a modern building. It’s a big plus.”
The second wing will sit away from the street, making a ‘V’ shape that will include a courtyard facing Clark Avenue. The courtyard will also act as a safety measure, McCue said, to keep kids off of the sidewalk during dismissal and entry times.
Meanwhile, neighbors were to gather at a community meeting on Wednesday night to discuss impending comprehensive roadwork that comes as a reward for the community enduring several years of school construction.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they plan to do comprehensive repairs on Tudor, Warren, Clark and a piece of Crescent Avenue.
“They’ll end up with new utilities, drainage systems, sewers, streets and sidewalks when all is said and done,” he said. “It is a consolation to abutters for putting up with the construction.”
He said the work will be disruptive as well, but would be completed by the end of the calendar year.
Phase 2 of the school will include the library, specialty classrooms, administrative space, technology labs, a gym/auditorium and a drama stage.
The first phase contained all of the classrooms and the cafeteria.