ASHLAND Ashland school officials are meeting with contractors and working out plans to demolish the swimming pool building at Paul Blazer High School as quickly as possible.
Tearing down the building before the snow flies is important because its aging roof is too weak to support a heavy load, and if it collapsed it might take parts of adjoining structures with it, according to buildings and grounds administrator Richard Oppenheimer.
Architects and engineers have determined the pool roof and those of the James A. Anderson Gymnasium, the gym lobby and an adjacent building containing classrooms all are structurally interconnected, and that failure of the pool roof could cause parts of those buildings to come crashing down, Oppenheimer said.
Demolition of the pool building is a foregone conclusion after a recent engineering study showed serious corrosion in ceiling joists, according to Oppenheimer. The building and the pool itself had other issues that would have cost between $2 million and $3 million to remedy, money the district can’t spend on a pool while it is still upgrading classroom buildings at the high school, Oppenheimer said.
The pool has been sealed off and the board made what Oppenheimer called “the difficult decision” to demolish it earlier this year.
The district has secured permission from the state to declare the project an emergency, which should streamline the process for bids and awarding a contract.
Still undecided is what to do with the space after the pool is gone. Possibilities include leaving the space as an open courtyard, pouring a concrete pad on it, or erecting new classrooms, according to Oppenheimer.
Blazer will still maintain a swim team, athletic director Mark Swift said. The team will practice five times a week at the Ashland YMCA and will host some meets there as well, Swift said.
School officials are working with the YMCA to coordinate times the team can use the already crowded pool, he said.
The school district will pay students’ fees to the YMCA for use of the pool, he said. With six lanes, the YMCA’s pool is larger than the Blazer pool, which has four.
Locals will remember the Blazer swim team’s glory days in the 1970s, when it won multiple state championships. The pool also has been the traditional site of celebratory dunkings when other Blazer athletic teams brought home state titles and sometimes when opponents defeated the Tomcats in basketball.
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