WALLINGFORD — A couple of dilapidated town-owned buildings have been demolished, and work is progressing on others.
In November, the Town Council approved funding for a plan to demolish the Wooding Construction Co. building behind the police station on North Main Street, as well as the Civil Defense building and former Choate Rosemary Hall boathouse, which are both on Washington Street, and renovate part of the Spanish Community of Wallingford facility.
The total cost estimate is $556,167 — a combined $180,470 for the demolition of all three buildings and $375,697 for renovations to SCOW. The total amount appropriated was $528,217.
The Public Works Department budget has $27,950 — marked for architecture, environmental studies and remediation work — that can also be used.
About half of the funds, $253,791, came from insurance collected for storm damage to the Civil Defense building, which is on the same parcel as SCOW.
Since the town purchased the 3.5 acre Wooding-Caplan property in 1992 for $1.47 million, several ideas for how to use the property had been presented by town officials. In August 2017, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a plan to demolish the buildings.
Public Works razed the Wooding building and completed filling and grading a couple weeks ago, Public Works Director Henry McCully said Monday.The demolition creates additional parking spaces for the police department.
Construction of a 3,600-square-foot police storage building was completed in November. The police department moved some stored equipment out of the rear portion of the SCOW building, which creates room to expand programs, including the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math academy.
The academy used to be held next door, in the former Civil Defense building.
“But since the roof blew off of it, they had to move the program,” McCully said.
The Civil Defense building's roof was compromised, and came off in some places, during a snowstorm with high winds last winter.
The building was razed last week.
McCully said Monday workers are "almost done” at the site. They still need to dig out the foundation and remove the collapsed brick, he said.
The all-masonry building, which once housed the town Electric Division offices, was about 100 years old.
Robert Beaumont, Public Utilities Commission chairman, said Monday that the building was added onto at least once, beginning as a one-story building around 1920.
“I remember going in as a kid, since my dad worked there for about a half-century,” he said. “My memory of it is Mr. (Alfred) Pierce, the founding manager of the facility,” who began his job in October 1899 and retired around 1953.
The Electric Division offices moved to the current John Street building around 1963, Beaumont said.
He said he wasn’t sure how soon after the building was changed for Civil Defense use, but it housed emergency equipment for “a good number of years.”
Just north of the SCOW property, the old Choate Rosemary Hall boathouse is next to be demolished, McCully said, after environmental remediation work is done.
“That’s a small building,” McCully said. “It shouldn’t take as long to demo.”
The town acquired the boathouse in June 2015 when the town gave a portion of Beaumont Avenue to Choate in exchange for the 3,840-square-foot boathouse and two-acre property.
Unrelated to the Wooding/Civil Defense/boathouse project is the demolition of the former Brothers Restaurant, expected to begin this spring to make way for a parking lot.
The town purchased the property at 33 N. Cherry St. in a foreclosure auction last October for $411,000.
McCully said before the building comes down, there’s an environmental survey to be completed for interior hazards.
“The report will show locations of lead paint and material containing asbestos,” he said, “that has to be abated first.”
One more project Public Works is undertaking is the replacement of the auditorium chairs in Town Hall council chambers.
The rows of cast iron and laminated wood folding seats are slated to be replaced with softer seats, which the town acquired from the former Bristol-Myers Squibb facility.
McCully said the replacement project will start “whenever I can free personnel up.”