Many of the Mesa Junior High School buildings could come down starting in October, the Mesa Unified School District governing board was told last week.
The district closed the school in May 2012 citing enrollment decline and the cost to maintain the aging facility. The school opened in the 1950s.
When the proposal was made to close the school, the city expressed interest in creating a regional park at the site.
In November, school district voters approved funds for the demolition as part of a $230 million bond package.
But the city is still crafting its plans so has asked the district to four major buildings, Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Mike Cowan told the governing board.
“They’ve encouraged us to demolish other buildings because they’re ready to start on the park. They want us to hold off on the library, auditorium, kitchen and gym,” Cowan said.
Marc Heirshberg, director of the city’s parks, recreation and commercial facilities department, said the city needs time to evaluate use for those buildings, as well as determine the exact cost to maintain them.
“The city has requested that the gymnasium, the cafeteria, the library and the auditorium remain for a period of five years while the city further identifies the condition of those buildings as well as the potential for future program,” Heirshberg said in an e-mail to the Tribune.
The district expects it to cost less than the $4 million budgeted for demolition, assistant superintendent Bobette Sylvester said. The district is also working to separate the utilities on the campus.
The city made a “request for proposals” earlier this year to find a company to design the new park.
“We anticipate conducting interviews with the final candidates the middle of July. Once a firm is selected we will begin contract negotiations. Upon completion of an executed design contract we will begin working with stakeholders through the design process,” Heirshberg wrote. “Of the buildings being salvaged, we have included in the project scope an analysis of the gymnasium to identify what costs would be necessary to bring that building up to code. We will also be looking at adding additional playing fields (youth baseball/softball and soccer/multi-use fields) to the site during phase one.”
Down the street from Mesa Junior High School’s campus, the city is working on another project on district property. It is creating a new aquatic center at Mesa High School. The project was just awarded to a design team, Heirshberg said. Once the final contract is approved, the city will work with the community to determine which amenities to include in the design.
Both projects are being funded with dollars from the $70 million bond plan approved by Mesa voters in November.
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