Demolition begins at Audubon school

2013-12-10T03:00:00Z 2013-12-10T05:44:58Z Demolition begins at Audubon schoolTara Becker tbecker@qctimes.com The Quad-City Times

Bundled up against the cold Monday, Eric Mosher stood in front of the Audubon Elementary School in Rock Island and pointed to his favorite spots: the library and gym.

"I always had a good time in gym," said the 21-year-old former student.

Soon, the decades-old former grade school will be gone.

Early Monday, a big, yellow crane began tearing down the building, 2617 18th Ave., chunk by chunk.

Neighbors came out to watch, to photograph and to videotape the demolition with cameras and cellphones.

One neighbor commented that it was the end of an era.

In October, the Rock Island-Milan School District school board decided to demolish the building, which has been closed since 2010.

Audubon was built in 1922 and became the Center for Math and Science in 2009 before closing the following year.

In November 2012, Fareway Stores Inc. offered the district $475,000 to buy Audubon and replace it with a grocery store. The company decided to terminate the sale in July.

Quad-City developer Joseph Lemon Jr. made an offer of $100,000 for the building last month after the board decided to demolish it.

Crews from Valley Construction began to raze the building Monday after several weeks of asbestos abatement.

District spokeswoman Holly Sparkman said crews had hoped to finish the demolition in a week but the cold weather likely will prolong the process.

Icy temperatures will make is impossible for crews to spray water on the building to keep the "dust down," which is part of the asbestos abatement process, Sparkman said.

Crews plan to use the crane to take the building apart piece by piece to keep dust and debris at bay, Sparkman said.

"They are really concerned about keeping everything as minimal as possible," Sparkman said.

The move to demolish the school has been met with controversy as neighbors and former students begged the district to reconsider its decision.

Board president Linda Dothard said in October that the board has done its "due diligence" to try to sell the building.

Mosher said he started school at Audubon in 2003 when he was in the fourth grade. The teachers and principal made him feel welcome.

 “It just makes me sad because I loved this building,” Mosher said.

The only thing he has left of the school, Mosher said, is the colorful yearbook he clutched in his hand Monday.

Once the building is gone, the district plans to sell the property. Sparkman said the district has not yet valued the land but the board could discuss it during a closed session at today's board meeting.

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(1) Comments

  1. bill handel
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    bill handel - December 09, 2013 10:58 pm
    I couldn't agree more with former student Eric Mosher. The Rock Islanders who nearly a century ago conceived of this beautiful school, who labored to construct it so soundly, and who sacrificed so much to pay for it would be astonished to see what their descendants have chosen to do to it. I can only now hope that the neighborhood puts pressure so that whatever goes in its place will be something of equal worth. And if it takes ten or fifteen years of it being a green space until that can happen, it's worth the wait.
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