Mayor announces demolition of former Roosevelt School

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Neighbors were so happy, some left work Monday to attend the news conference announcing the demoliton of the former Roosevelt School in Utica.

Christopher Specht won't miss the 64,000-square-foot eyesore and hazard -- or its unwanted tenants.

"This has been a source of a lot of stray animals in the city," Specht said. "We've never seen anything such as skunks, rats and possums till the school kind of fell in the disrepair it's in now."

Also happy about the demolition -- Utica's Fire Chief.

"I always viewed this building as being a bomb in the middle of the city," says Chief Russell Brooks, adding, " There's a hundred different ways this building could be harmful to the residents of the city or firefighters that had to come and respond to something here."

The building's roof has partially collapsed twice since September.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says demolition will begin as soon as early November, but will take until spring. The city's department of public works will demolish the building, with federal money paying for the $1 million disposal. Palmieri says work crews are specially trained to safely handle the abatement of any asbestos in the 100-plus-year-old building. He says once the building is down, his plans are for it to be replaced by more housing.

"We're looking to retain the integrity of this neighborhood, so we'd be looking for -- at this point -- working family homes," Palmieri said. "It would be one conglomerate that would come in here to develop it."

Roosevelt was a school for 100 years, before closing in 1992.


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