standing North Stonington Education Center

North Stonington Education Center. Sun file photo

NORTH STONINGTON — Demolition is complete at the North Stonington Education Center site, debris is being removed and soil will be used to grade the landscape in the next week, leaving only the construction of an exterior wall to finish the project.

Without any change orders, which are not anticipated this late in the project, the demolition of the one-story wing will be complete under the $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding budgeted and money will be returned to the general account for use on other eligible programs or projects.

“If there are not any more changes, then we may be able to give back a somewhat decent sum of money in terms of ARPA funds,” First Selectman Robert Carlson said during a meeting this week.

For the community, completion of the project marks the end of a lengthy process that began when the town approved demolition as part of school renovations several years ago. During construction, however, other issues forced reallocation of funds, and efforts over nearly two years to find a tenant were not fruitful, leading to a well-supported decision in 2022 to move forward using ARPA funds.

The town had initially hired a “clerk of the works” in August with a goal of completing demolition by the end of 2022. Bestech Inc. was hired at a bid of $689,000, and the company’s ability to serve as an asbestos-removal specialist allowed them to more directly address costly impacts in the North Stonington Education Center demolition, with three competing bids of $1.2 million or higher submitted by three other firms during the RFP process.

The project was met with several hiccups, including the need to relocate water lines to separate the school from neighboring Wheeler Library, as well as repositioning a second line in order to avoid freezing. The town also addressed a soil contamination issue after it was discovered that heating oil leaked underneath the former middle school wing.

Once soil is laid down next week, however, Carlson said it would be down to completing exterior work on the wall, which was not properly wind- and weather-resistant. Carlson said the wall needs to be insulated and fitted with a special sheet rock-like material, then will be covered in a veneer to match the brick look on the rest of the building.

Once all work is complete, it will be up to the public to voice their thoughts and determine what the future may hold for the site.

“Right now, it is just a matter of finishing the wall and hydroseeding, then we can look forward to a meeting in June,” Carlson said.

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