The Morris City Council has approved the plans and specifications for the demolition of the old Morris elementary school building, and has issued a call for bids. Chuck DeWolf, the project engineer, says the plan is to remove everything from the site, down to the building’s footings. The specifications indicate that all hazardous materials mitigation will be completed by the contractor, or their
sub-contractor. Following removal of the entire building from the site, the area will be filled in with black dirt. By the end of the
project, DeWolf says the site should be a big open space, ready for future development.
The old school has been empty for a number of years and has been the target of several vandal and nuisance crimes, including multiple fires in the building. Morris Chief of Police Jim Beauregard says safety concerns are likely to continue throughout the demolition process. He says the police department expects many people will want to see the demolition taking place and may be tempted to get too close or to enter the construction zone. In response, Beauregard says, additional patrols will be added through the duration of the project.
City Council members raised a number of concerns about the project, including the route trucks would take when removing hazardous
materials and the rest of the building. The plans and specifications direct all truck traffic east, down 7th Street in Morris to the
Highway 59 bypass. From there, trucks can head south, to the county’s landfill. DeWolf noted that all hazardous loads follow special
regulations, including encapsulating all asbestos before it is removed from the site by truck.
Morris City Manager Blaine Hill says the financing for the project is in place, with Tax Increment Financing Districts poised to pay back
bonds that will pay contractors during the construction timeline. Hill issued a call for bids on Wednesday, February 27. He says a number of contractors, both locally and from around the state, have shown interest in the project. DeWolf estimates the winning bid will be between $1 to 1.1 million. Bids will be opened on March 21, with a public hearing on the project and bond issue set for 5:20 p.m. on March 26 in the Morris Senior Community Center.