News Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

Demolition will be the fate of the former Lincoln School building

The matter of what to do with the former Lincoln School building on the 1300 block of Lincoln Avenue has been ongoing since its purchase by S&A Homes in 1999.
Lincoln School was originally built in 1911 as Tyrone’s senior high school, and in 1929, a junior high addition was constructed. In 1962, the present day high school was built, by which the former high school became Lincoln Elementary School. After the new elementary school was completed in 1999, all elementary schools in the school district combined, and Lincoln School became vacant.
Through the years, the Lincoln Avenue structure has deteriorated and suffered numerous acts of vandalism, as S&A Homes failed to come up with a solution on what to do with the building. The company once had plans to turn the site into housing for the elderly.
Since then, the building has come under a list of countless violations of the International Property Maintenance Code, such as, but not limited to, deteriorated and failing structural members, a defective roofing system and numerous broken windows.
Tyrone Borough has been pressuring S&A Homes to either fix the violations to the building or provide a plan of action. The borough went as far as issuing a Condemnation and Demolition Order on December 12, 2007.
S&A’s lack of attention to the issue changed tides in early February of 2008, when Tyrone Borough Code Enforcement Officer James Metzgar contacted S&A’s CEO, Bob Poole, who assured the borough of the company’s “promptness” on the Lincoln School issue. Poole said he was unaware of the ongoing concerns.
“The main concern is the public safety and welfare of the community,” said Metzgar.
S&A is currently accepting bids from several local and non-local demolition companies for a potential purchase and demolition of the property.
“S&A Homes has been in correspondence every week,” said Metzgar. “Every Friday I get correspondence back from Andy Haines, vice-president of S&A Homes. They’ve been narrowing the bids down, and they’re real close to the final bid.”
He added, “Once that final bid comes in, they are going to raze the building and probably sell off the parcels.”
Haines told the borough back in February of 2008 that S&A was working on various quotes for the demolition of the property. He wasn’t sure when the demo would start, but assured the borough that the company would be updating its progress consistently.
“As you can imagine, the costs are prohibitive, so we are working jointly on finding potential cost savings in the demolition,” said Haines in an e-mail to Metzgar. “This is not a single family house that can be demolished in two days, this is a large structure that is a complicated demolition. I only can assure you we are doing something.”
On March 7, 2008, Haines told the borough that S&A was still in the process of meeting with several demolition contractors to secure pricing and timing of razing the Lincoln School building. The company was working on getting the costs down to make sure it was economic for all parties. At that point, Haines said there was one bid and S&A desired to seek other bids.
“Our hope is to secure some more advantageous pricing to move forward,” said Haines. “I assure you that this has our full attention and hope to have this resolved in the coming weeks.”
In an e-mail dated March 15, 2008, Haines informed Metzgar that S&A was still working on bids from various demolition contractors to try to secure an economic situation to the building. S&A then had two bids in hand and was working on a few more.
As of last evening’s borough work session, S&A has yet to declare a final bidder as Metzgar previously stated, but the one thing that is definite is the historic Lincoln School building will no longer be standing in the near future.
Haines said that the company may have a potential buyer of the property once it is demolished, but nothing is set in stone at this point to make public.
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin agreed with S&A’s decision to raze the building, and hopes that something positive comes out of it. He said that the borough has talked with State Representative Mike Fleck and Senator John Eichelberger’s office about trying to pursue something along the lines of a park area or green space area on the property.
“Ideally I’d like to see something like that happen, but there’s somebody interested in purchasing the property, so we’ll have to see what the purchaser wants to do with development,” stated Kilmartin.
He added, “It’s a tragedy that you have to get rid of history in the way it is, but nothing was done with the building so you have to do something with it. I’m excited to see what the plans are to get in there.”