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Photo by Diane Cox
A pile of rubble lies where the former Lincoln Elementary School once stood. The property owner donated the structure and land to the city of Wood River after the site was for sale for more than a decade.
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Photo by Diane Cox
The former Lincoln Elementary School on the corner of Carstens and Wood River Avenue is coming down.
WOOD RIVER — It’s bittersweet for longtime Wood River residents to see Lincoln Elementary School turn into a pile of rubble on Wood River Avenue. Such was the case Friday morning as bulldozers and backhoes moved into position.
“I hate to see it torn down,” former student Brooke Arnel said. “It’s too bad they couldn’t find something good to use the building for. Lots of good memories there.”
The school closed its doors in 1984, sending students to Lewis and Clark or Hartford Elementary.
“Since Lincoln closed, a Christian private school and a glass company have occupied the building,” Wood River City Manager Jim Schneider said. “The building has been for sale for I don’t know how long. We’ve gone back and forth on it. The owner decided to donate it to the city; we’re tearing it down.”
City officials have not yet decided what will be done with the property on the corner of Carstens and Wood River Avenue.
“One thought we’ve had was to build some new houses,” Schneider said. “We are up for new ideas. We may accept RFPs, which means requests for proposals, from individuals that may have ideas for that property. We will go from there and see what we get and what ideas are suggested.”
City officials have had concerns about the property for several years and knew the building was a potentially dangerous structure, having been vacant for more than a decade.
“We knew our only option for the structure would be to tear it down,” Schneider said. “We’ve known for a long time that building had too many issues. It would not be cost-effective to do any sort of repairs on the structure. This had been quite the project and I know it’s been a mess for a long time.”
Wood River residents have already begun to respond to the city’s quick actions to tear down and clear the dilapidated property.
“We’ve already had a lot of calls from neighboring residents who are happy to see the building come down,” Schneider said. “The building has become a hazard and many residents were concerned it was an area that perhaps kids could get in and possibly play and get hurt. The response has been ‘thank you’ from residents so far.”
The actual process of tearing down the former school and clearing the debris is estimated to be finished within a week as long as the rainy weather cuts city workers a break.
Tom DeClue of GRP Mechanical was the previous property owner who donated the structure and land to the city.
“Mr. DeClue has come up with several ideas for the property over the years,” Schneider said. “It just seemed as though nothing seemed to work, but he did make efforts with it. Options just ran out, so he asked the city if we’d like to take it over, which we wanted to.”
The view on Wood River Avenue will continue to change in weeks to come as two more structures will come down. Two buildings across from City Hall will be torn down because of the structures being deemed as dilapidated and too expensive to fix. Schneider said the new space would possibly be used as green space and possibly an area for new parking.