Demolition of Johnson Elementary Making Progress as New Parking Lot, Green Space Arrival Next Step

By Jeff Toquinto on October 05, 2018 via

For years, motorists and others passing along the main stretch of Johnson Avenue in front of the school complex could catch a glimpse of the educational facilities that have stood for decades. In the last year, what folks saw began to change.
Starting with the construction of the new Johnson Elementary School to the recent beginning of the demolition of the old building, change has been constant. That change could come to an end soon.
According to Harrison County Schools Assistant Superintendent Jimmy Lopez, all items planned should be wrapped up well before the end of the calendar year.
“Everything is going well. The contractor has made really good progress,” said Lopez of the work being done by City Construction, the general contractor for the new school. “They’re more than two-thirds of the way completed. The goal is to have everything done before winter gets here.”
When that time arrives, a school building that taught generations of students from the 1950s until last year will be gone. Although the memories will likely remain pleasant, the building was considered the worst school facility in Harrison County and that led to its demise. Mold issues, lack of space, no gymnasium and other problems set the stage for what’s currently taking place.
The area of the demolition is surrounded by fence. Work has been done throughout the day, including during school hours. The rainy weather, said Lopez, has been an asset for giving workers more time to do work with limited impact.
“The weather has been a hindrance with the rain in some sense, but it’s also been good because it’s kept the dust down,” said Lopez. “It’s not been the problem we thought it might be with the dust going through the area and going into places such as the football field. The demolition is a controlled one to keep the dust down, but the rain has aided that aspect tremendously.”
Once the demolition is done, the work will continue. Lopez said a parking area with roughly 170 parking spaces will be put in the area of the former school in a lot featuring islands and new lights. And that’s not all.
“There’s going to a really nice green space there as well. It’s going to make the area looking very nice,” said Lopez.
There are other items that will be addressed as well in the weeks ahead. Lopez said infrastructure work, such as drainage, will begin once the building is done with some of it being subcontracted out.
“If everything goes as we hope, we’d like to see everything completed in the November range. Whether that’s early or late will depend on a number of factors,” said Lopez.
The cost of the demolition is right around $840,000.
Editor's Note: Photos by Joey Signorelli of

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