WESTPORT, Mass (WPRI) — Demolition has slowly begun at the old Westport Middle School, which has been plagued by hazardous materials for years.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and asbestos were detected in the school on Old County Road back in 2011. Officials took measures to tackle the problem, but ultimately decided to shut it down in 2014.
According to owner’s project manager, Dan Tavares, hazardous materials are often found in old buildings such as this one.
The school district had to move students around to accommodate the closure of the middle school.
Fifth and 6th graders moved to the elementary school, bumping 1st and 2nd graders to the Alice A. Macomber School, and 7th and 8th grade students moved to the high school.
Crews began knocking down Westport Middle School began Dec. 26.
Demolition and cleanup is expected to be finished by the end of March.
“It will take the next three months to completely remove the building and remove all the materials.” said Tavares.
The next step is to select a general contractor for the new middle-high school. Tavares says that process has already begun.
Tavares said, “Everyone is excited to see this thing starting to happen … It’s been a long time for the people of Westport.”
The goal is to have the new project out to bid by the end of February 2019, with construction of the new building likely beginning in May.
The roughly 187,000 square foot middle-high school will be home to students from grades 5-12.
Renderings of what the interior an exterior of the building will look like once complete, along with updates on the process, can be found on the project’s website.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $96.8 million, with about $78 million going toward construction alone.
In February 2018, taxpayers voted to approve partially funding the project.
The town will cover approximately $58.8 million and the Massachusetts School Building Authority will reimburse $38 million.
The new Westport Middle-High School is expected to be completed in September 2021.
The playing fields will need time to grow, so outdoor school sports will have to be played elsewhere until the fields are ready, which will likely be fall of 2023, according to the project’s website.