While the new East Bridgewater Junior-Senior High School is slated to open next Thursday, the old high school isn’t going anywhere for at least a couple of months.
General contractor Fontaine Bros. Inc. will be taking over the 56-year-old East Bridgewater High building on Plymouth Street sometime in the near future, and begin weeks of precautionary actions, such as the abatement of hazardous materials, that will set the stage for its demolition.
Company president David Fontaine said surveyors determined that the building contains asbestos, which he said isn’t uncommon in structures built prior to 1980.
“In any building, you have to dispose of it properly so you don’t expose workers and the general public,” said Fontaine. The demolition company handling the asbestos removal “will contain it in packaging so it’s safe for transport, and bring it to different disposal facilities.”
Fontaine’s demolition subcontractor won’t start tearing down walls for at least two months, said the school district’s interim superintendent, John A. Moretti.
And when the demolition begins, Fontaine said, there will be no explosives or wrecking balls. Instead, excavators and heavy equipment will slowly take apart the building.
Because the old and new schools are right next to each other, there will be safety measures to protect the students in grades 7 through 12 from the dangers of a demolition zone.
“They’re already starting to fence off the old school,” Paul Vieira, the school’s principal, said last week.
“We had very, very few issues with kids venturing over when the new school was being built. The old high school will be cordoned off so kids can’t get in there,” he said.
Over the past two years, Vieira said, the school has worked closely with Fontaine Bros. to ensure the safety of students and faculty while trucks, deliveries, and building materials were restricted to the construction zone.
The principal of eight years said building the new school had posed little to no disruption, and predicted the same outcome during the demolition of the old high school, even with the curiosity factor kicking in occasionally when students look out the window.
“A lot of great things happened in there,” Vieira said of the old school, “but it’s time for a fresh start for the school and community.”Nicole Leonard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @NicALeonard.