Despite Hope of November Completion, Parking Lot at Demolished Johnson Site Scheduled to Take Place

By Jeff Toquinto on February 09, 2019 via

For most of the last few months, the site of the former Johnson Elementary School has been nothing more than a few free standing playgrounds and a whole lot of mud. That’s a bit different than what Harrison County Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin and Assistant Superintendent Jimmy Lopez has expected.
Both were looking at clearing the site and perhaps having everything completed as early as November if weather cooperated and all other things were handled. More than two months later, it’s clearly not complete.
Does that mean the construction of a parking lot and other amenities as part of the near $1 million demolition project of the old Johnson Elementary School isn’t going to happen? While the bad news is that it didn’t get finished in the most optimal time, the good news is that the rest of the project is still going to happen.
“The goal is now to have everything completed in the spring,” said Lopez a few weeks ago. “The main culprit has been the weather. We’re basically waiting on good weather, including dry weather, to come around to where we can do some things.”
The site will see one thing stay in place, and that’s one of the existing playgrounds. Lopez said another playground will be relocated on the grounds of the new facility and a new one still needs to be installed at the new Johnson Elementary.
“That’s actually a bigger issue than many may think as far as completing one playground set and removing and resetting another,” said Lopez. “You have to have someone licensed to move playground equipment due to the liability. In the past, our maintenance guys would do that. Now, we have to bring someone in.”
Along with the finishing touches and the playground equipment, Lopez said there are some infrastructure issues needing addressed. He said drainage work and a few other issues need to be taken care of before proceeding to the next phase.
“It’s a mess right now, but I think you’ll see work picking up back in March,” said Lopez. “The demolition itself is 100 percent complete, but we still have to have the finished product.”
The finished product will provide some much-needed parking to the area between Johnson Elementary and Bridgeport High School. There is anticipated to be 171 additional parking spaces, new lighting, landscaping and excavation.
City Construction, the main contractor on the JES job, will handle all of that, said Lopez. It’s part of the $839,934 demolition contract.
“When it’s done, it’s going to have a bit of a wow factor to it,” said Lopez. “The Board (of Education) and Dr. Manchin and very conscientious about how this is going to look and it’s another small reason why it’s taken a little longer. Dr. Manchin was to make sure the finished space is not only to meet its use and look good, but to have an appealing touch when you see the facility.”
Editor's Note: Top photo is a recent aerial photo by Ben Queen of of the demolition site, while the bottom photo shows the former fenced in area as debris was being removed.

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