by William J. Bechaver
WALSENBURG- We all can see, when we pass by the old high school building on Walsen Avenue, there is a lot going on. In some ways, they are advancing with the process by leaps and bounds, in others, progress is slow but steady. The main obstacles when refurbishing a building of that age tend to be the unexpected and unforeseen conditions you find after the work begins. Despite the best laid plans, there are always a plethora of surprises that manage to creep up when you start removing walls and opening up new, previously not utilized areas.
A few months ago, while passing by, you may have noticed large pipes being inserted vertically in the ground on the north side of the building. This was the pipe-work for the geothermal heating and cooling system which will efficiently and effectively provide a comfortable working atmosphere in the building year round. That exterior part of the system was installed beneath what will be the future parking lot.
The next focus for the project will be the removal of the windows that are currently in the building. There are 134 double-pane aluminum-clad windows. Installed in 1984, they will be replaced by more energy-efficient windows which replicate the original windows. The funding is available for the new windows; the only obstacle to the project is the removal of the old windows. The library contractors are looking for people who are interested in obtaining the windows for a small donation to help defray the cost of the installation of the new windows.
Another option for their removal would be for parties interested in removing and recycling the aluminum frames from the 134 windows. Then the only concern would be the disposal or distribution of the panes and screens, and other components that are not recyclable. In 1984, glass block was put in all the stairwells in place of windows that were there. This glass block will also need to be removed and and will be for sale. About half of the windows also have venetian blinds that will be available for sale as well. If anyone is interested in removal or recovery of these items, they are encouraged to contact the staff at the library.
As you drive by in the next few weeks, you will see the cleaning and restoration work being done to the exterior of the building. Work is also progressing on the parking lot on the north end, and foundation work for the new north entrance and elevator will begin soon. The ground is being prepared for the commencement of that project now. Currently, the interior duct work for the new heating and cooling system is being installed. As the electricians find ways to rewire the electrical system to provide new lighting and outlets for the required equipment, the work on the basic infrastructure is steadily progressing.
The next concern to be addressed will be the process for renovation and utilization of the second floor, and at a later time, the third floor, of the building. A number of community groups have been encouraged to work together to find a way to manage the space and obtain the necessary funding to finish the second floor for their specific needs. More on those and other opportunities for local community groups will be addressed in the weeks to come.
As a community service, the staff of the library are always willing to take groups on tours of the new, progressing facility. So, if you are planning a class reunion this summer, and would like a tour of your old high school digs, feel free to contact them at 738-2774 to arrange a guided tour. Our thanks to them for being most accommodating to us as we continue to keep you informed about the process and progress of our new library.