For more than 20 years, the old Roosevelt School in Utica has stood vacant, falling apart little by little. Over the past few months, city officials have worked with state agencies to come up with a solution. As YNN's Cara Thomas tells us, demolition is finally set to begin and neighbors say it's been a long time coming.
UTICA--Utica Mayor, Robert Palmieri, began a bittersweet announcement by saying, "It's with mixed emotions today that I'm in front of Roosevelt school,"
A building which has stood on Brinkerhoff Avenue in Utica for more than 120 years. But in 1992 the doors to the old Roosevelt School closed and neglect and deterioration have brought it to the condition it's in today.
"Everyone's happy to see it go. It's been a breeding ground for a lot of animals we typically don't see in the area, bats, raccoons, opossums, cats, everything of the like. It's great to see the eyesore completely wiped out," said neighborhood resident, Christopher Specht.
City officials announced Monday, their plans to demolish the old school. It's expected to cost about $1 million. Most of it will be paid for through federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Beyond just the appearance, officials say this project has taken on increasing importance, as the building is now a danger to the local community.
"The city's not responsible for them but unfortunately you can no longer let an eyesore and a public safety hazard of this magnitude stay dormant for any more time," said Palmieri.
Utica Fire Chief, Russell Brooks, said, "I've always viewed this building as being a bomb in the middle of the city waiting to go off. There's 100 different ways this building could be harmful to the residents of the city or firefighters that had to come and respond to something here."
Demolition is expected to begin in early November and they hope to have it completed by the end of December. But officials say the winter weather will be a major factor in the progress of this project.
Specht said, "In the past five to ten years this block has been on the up and up for sure it's kind of like the last big step in beautifying the area."
By the spring, this piece of property should be completely cleared of all debris and ready for new development. City officials say they've been talking with private developers about the future of this property. They're expecting to see more single family homes built in this location.