Days num­bered for Cen­ter School

Connecticut Post - - NEWS - By John Burge­son jburge­son@ct­post.com

STRAT­FORD — Take your last look at Cen­ter School on Sut­ton Av­enue.

Town Hall says by midSeptem­ber, the site will look like there was never a school there in the first place.

The 3- acre site is be­ing eyed as the per­fect place for down­town shops, hous­ing and a park­ing garage. With demolition im­mi­nent, that dream is a step closer to re­al­ity. The Town Coun­cil agreed in Jan­uary to move for­ward with raz­ing the for­mer school, which opened in 1970.

Of­fi­cials have re­leased a time­line for the build­ing re­moval and it’s been dis­trib­uted to those liv­ing nearby. Many of those neigh­bors weren’t too keen on the way the school was aban­doned by the town, but both school and town of­fi­cials have said there was no re­al­is­tic use for the build­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the time­line, a perime­ter fence will go up around the work­site next week. Be­gin­ning the week of June 25, haz­ardous sub­stances will be re­moved from the build­ing. The school will be com­ing down be­tween July 24 and Aug. 20.

Be­tween Aug. 21 and Sept. 3, the foun­da­tion will be dug up and carted away. Fi­nally, dur­ing the first two weeks of Septem­ber, the site will be graded with new top­soil and seeded with grass.

Cen­ter School, which at one time housed about 255 stu­dents in grades K-6, was mostly moth­balled in 2005, Only a small num­ber of stu­dents re­mained there in spe­cial pro­grams un­til 2015.

The town has re­ceived a grants to help turn the school­yard into a vi­able com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial space. First, a

$ 1.25 mil­lion brown­fields grant was awarded to help with the re­moval of any toxic ma­te­rial on site to make it safe for demolition.

The town also re­ceived a $450,000 Com­plete Streets grant from the state, to be used to de­sign a num­ber of im­prove­ments for a por­tion on Main Street and Bar­num Av­enue to en­hance safety for bi­cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans. This was in ad­di­tion to a $200,000 ur­ban plan­ning grant that was awarded ear­lier from the state, also in­volv­ing the cen­ter of town.

Of­fi­cials in Town Hall see the Cen­ter School site as ripe for so-called Tran­sit-Ori­ented Devel­op­ment. This caters to mil­len­ni­als, who value prox­im­ity to mass tran­sit and down­town at­trac­tions over homes in the coun­try with lawns and shrubs. The school site is but a few steps from the MetroNorth train sta­tion.

Ned Ger­ard / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Cen­ter School, on Sut­ton Av­enue in Strat­ford, will be de­mol­ished and carted away over the next four months.

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