The fence is up and the hazardous materials are coming out.
Though high school classes are permanently out at the former Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) building along Hwy. 5 in Humboldt, there has been activity going on in the building over the summer.
Over the next 18 months, parts of the old high school will be knocked down, other parts will be renovated and new parts will be built to connect the old high school building to the Humboldt Public School (HPS) building next door. The elementary school building will also have parts demolished and others renovated before the project is complete.
What will result from all this demolition, renovation and construction will be a new HPS comprised of parts of the old high school and elementary school, as well as completely new sections.
“We’re quite excited,” said Marc Danylchuk, director of education for the Horizon School Division (HZSD) about the project, when contacted by the Journal last week.
“We’re heading into a two-stage project,” he explained.
The action will happen at the old HCI building first.
Once the work on that side of the school is all done, the school population will move into that new side of the building, while changes are made to the existing elementary school building.
“It’s about a one-and-a-half-year process,” Danylchuk said.
That process has already begun, with crews going in to remove hazardous materials like asbestos from the former HCI building and preparing to knock down parts of it.
They will be keeping the former Carlton Trail Regional College section of HCI, Danylchuk said, which is a newer part of the school at the north end, as well as the newer wing of classrooms along the west side of the school, and the gymnasium, which is also at the north end.
Much of the southern portions of the school, including the office, theatre and industrial and practical arts classrooms, will be demolished.
“The older section will be torn down,” Danylchuk said, calling it “a considerable portion” of the building.
“There is a fair chunk of demolition that has to happen,” he said.
Tear-down of the old sections of HCI will begin soon — in about a month, reported Ed Gamola of Humboldt Lumber Mart, the general contractor on this project.
“The target was to have (the demolition) done before kids are back at school,” Danylchuk said. “But I’m not sure we’re going to meet that target.”
The first phase of the project — knocking down and renovating parts of the old HCI building, as well as constructing a new section to link the two buildings — is the bigger piece of work, and it will likely take most of the school year to get ready for students, Danylchuk said.
Once school is out, they will start work on the current HPS building, including demolishing the oldest part of the school on the south end.
The northern section of the current HPS building will be renovated, and will include a new 51-space daycare, Danylchuk noted, with room for infants.
Students will begin the 2013-14 school year in the new side of the school to the west. The project should wrap up about halfway through that school year.
There have been some people upset by the plan to demolish the oldest part of HPS, which is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
Demolishing old buildings is always sad, Danylchuk said.
“I’m not a fan of destroying old things,” he said.
However, it is cheaper, in the long run, he said, to build new than to try and fix the old sections of the school.