Demolition of retired M-CHS to start next week in Cortez

Project delayed due to asbestos testing

Demolition on the retired Montezuma-Cortez High School is set to begin early next week, according to district officials. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Journal

Demolition on the retired Montezuma-Cortez High School is set to begin early next week, according to district officials.

The retired Montezuma-Cortez High School building will finally come down starting Monday, according to Re-1 school district officials.

Owner’s Rep Jim Ketter, who is overseeing the project, said Tuesday the first phase of asbestos abatement in the building is nearly complete, and the first phase of demolition will start next week.

“Tearing down an old school is not as exciting and fun as building a new school, but we’ve been putting a lot of work into this,” Ketter told school board members at their regular meeting Tuesday.

The first phase of demolition should be completed by mid-June, Ketter said. Superintendent Lori Haukeness said demolition on the gym and several classrooms should start next week.

The district is working with Colorado Hazard Control, of Denver, for asbestos abatement and Iron Mountain Demolition, of Colorado Springs, for demolition. Western Technologies, of Durango, is providing environmental consulting services for the project, Ketter said.

In February, district officials reported that the demolition process has been delayed due to pending asbestos test results from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Initial test results on the building were unclear about the true amount of asbestos in the building’s cinder block walls.

Tuesday, Ketter said the CDPHE tests came back to reveal that most of the building’s walls do contain asbestos. Ketter previously said that if the tests had revealed the building contained less asbestos than previously thought, it could have meant a significant reduction in the cost to the district for the project.

Ketter said he would work to comply with the state’s regulations while trying to find the most favorable outcome for the district.

“We’re trying to do our due diligence,” he said.

Re-1 Director of Facilities and School Safety Jamie Haukeness said the district had been awarded a $240,000 Brownfields Hazardous Substance Response Funds grant from the state health department. The grant will help offset the costs of the demolition project, but it will be several months before the district sees those funds, he said.

Cortez city officials were very helpful in helping the district obtain the grant, he added.

Lori Haukeness said she was excited to see demolition finally begin. She thanked members of the community for voting to reallocate $1.8 million in funds previously set aside for a Panther Stadium upgrade to the M-CHS demolition project.

“The community was very gracious,” she said.

jacobk@the-journal.com