NORWOOD - Cleanup of the ruins of the former Norwood Elementary School is expected to continue this year as the village prepares the site for future development.
The school was destroyed in a 2009 fire. Debris removal began in 2012.
The village board agreed Monday to continue working with GYMO Engineering, Watertown, to remove the remaining debris from the site.
Norwoods budget year begins June 1. The village will not raise taxes, according to Norwood Mayor James H. McFaddin, but as long as enough money is available the second phase of the school cleanup will begin this summer.
The cleanup will probably cost about $20,000, the same as the first phase.
Norwood has faced numerous financial and legal hurdles in its attempts to remove the rubble.
Initially, it was believed that all of the debris would have to be treated as contaminated with asbestos, which would have cost the village about $350,000 to remove.
In 2012, the village received a site-specific variance that allowed workers to separate contaminated material from the rest of the debris, dramatically reducing the cost of the work.
The village spent years trying to contact I.B. Holdings Inc., a Florida company that owned the property until last summer, in an attempt to get them to pay for part of the cost of cleanup. The company finally responded last year, paying for most of the first phase of debris removal and signing away the deed for the land to Norwood, which will be on its own for funding future cleanup phases.
The first phase of cleanup removed most of the asbestos-contaminated degree, which was disposed of by the Development Authority of the North Country at its landfill in Rodman. The front wall of the ruined school still stands.
If all goes according to plan, the worst of the damage will be removed by the end of the summer.
One acre of the property will be turned into a park to commemorate the school, which was built in 1885. No specific uses have yet been discussed for the rest of the property, although Mr. McFaddin says it is ripe for development.
That would give us an 11-acre lot in a really upscale residential area of our village, he said.
All that will remain is a single wing of the school, which was added in the 1980s. The wing was not heavily damaged by the fire, and the village plans to renovate it, possibly converting it into office space, Mr. McFaddin said.
We have some inquiries about it already, Mr. McFaddin said, although he said he did not want to talk about who had expressed interest in the building.
Renovations on the surviving wing are expected to begin in 2014.