Commodore coming down

A shattered brick wall is pulled down during demolition work at the Commodore building Thursday morning. - JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo
A shattered brick wall is pulled down during demolition work at the Commodore building Thursday morning.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo

First came the ravages of nature and time; now heavy equipment will finish the job.

Wholesale demolition of the badly leaking, 1940s-era wing of the Commodore Bainbridge building began Thursday morning, following several weeks of salvage work and asbestos abatement.

“It’s been a very easy process so far,” said Tamela Van Winkle, project manager for the Bainbridge Island School District, crediting good weather for keeping work at the Commodore site and other district facilities running on schedule.

“It’s a real blessing,” she said. “We’ve had phenomenal weather for everybody to be working. Probably a little too hot for some.”

Main contractor is Vision Builders Inc. of Port Angeles.

Some 35,000 square feet of classroom and cafeteria space is coming down in the summer-long, $1.6 million project.

Reconstruction will include a new exterior wall, a raised covered walkway, various seismic upgrades, and roof repairs around the remainder of the building.

New classroom space is planned on the east side next year.

Fears that the work would be stalled by a statewide carpenters strike were allayed with the resolution of that dispute earlier this month.

Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews came out twice last week to practice rescues in the soon-to-be-demolished building, cutting holes in the roof and punching through walls.

The project has also stirred up memories of the five decades of island school children who went through the building.

For anyone who wants to see part of Bainbridge history come down in dramatic fashion, the two-story brick walls of the cafeteria will be razed sometime Monday or Tuesday morning.

A safe vantage point is the Bainbridge Aquatic Center parking area; Thursday, the faces of a dozen youths were lined up at the fence as the building disappeared one heavily mechanized bite at a time.

“They come to the pool with their folks and become mesmerized,” Van Winkle said.

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