The house at 92 Repton Road in Riverside next to Ames School will be demolished this summer. The Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education voted 4 to 3 on June 20 to demolish the house despite being shocked at the high cost of demolishing the home.

The board voted to accept a bid from McDonnough Demolition to take down the home for $87,100. That was one of only two bids the district received for the work and was $1,900 less than the other bid.

The three board members who voted against accepting the bid, President Jeff Miller, finance committee chairman Rich Regan and board member Joel Marhoul, wanted to wait and seek other bids in the hope of getting a lower price.

A year ago, the board thought that it would only cost approximately $35,000 to demolish the house, which the district bought out of foreclosure in late 2016 for $399,100.

“This is a shocking increase,” Regan said before the vote. “In my opinion, there is no need for us to vote on this tonight.”

But the board members who voted to accept the bid, David Barsotti, Dan Hunt, Shari Klyber and Lynda Murphy, decided that they wanted to make sure the house was demolished this summer so the lot could be used for green space during the upcoming school year.

“While I know it’s an expensive price to pay, I think the value of the green space outweighs it especially when construction is probably two years ago,” Murphy said after the vote.

Eight contractors obtained bid documents for the demolition, but only two contractors returned bids. McDonnough will tear down the house, garage and deck and remove the foundations, site utilities, concrete steps and pathways. After the house is demolished, grass will be planted or sod laid.

Asbestos abatement will account for about 25 percent of the cost of the demolition.

The district bought the abandoned house in 2016 with the intention of demolishing it and using the land to build some kind of addition to Ames School, or less likely, a separate building. 

The district also wanted to increase the amount of green space around Ames. Currently during recess Ames students play on school’s asphalt parking lot.

The district’s architect is working on conceptual drawings for possible additions to Ames School. Those drawings will be presented to the school board at its July 18 meeting, and members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and weigh in on the possibilities presented.

The district’s facilities advisory committee has been having visioning sessions to develop ideas and wishes for the new space. The architect has also met with Ames staff and students to learn about how the current building is used and what the greatest needs are. 

More classroom space is almost certain to be one element presented as Ames is perhaps the most cramped school in the district and increasing enrollment across the district is a concern for district officials. 

If the board can agree on a plan quickly, it is possible construction could take place during the summer of 2019, but board members seem to feel that starting construction in 2020 is a more realistic possibility.

Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye said that the demolition of the home should take place within 30 to 45 days.