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Big Hollow buildings torn down

Office chairs that once were used inside the Edmond Taveirne Middle School in Fox Lake litter the landscape as the school is demolished by  workers from Eagle Biomass, Inc. of McHenry.
Office chairs that once were used inside the Edmond Taveirne Middle School in Fox Lake litter the landscape as the school is demolished by workers from Eagle Biomass, Inc. of McHenry.

FOX LAKE – The end finally has arrived for two former school buildings that have sat vacant for years.

The demolition of the former Big Hollow Primary School and Edmond Taveirne Middle School is under way. It is expected to take about three weeks before both buildings are completely razed, officials said.

The Big Hollow School District 38 Board of Education awarded a bid of $284,800 to McHenry-based Eagle Biomass Inc. in November to demolish the abandoned schools just south of Routes 12 and 134, off the east side of Route 12.

At the time, both buildings were expected to be demolished before the end of 2010, school officials said.

School board president Vicki Gallichio said she did not know the reason behind the delay.

The primary school was built in the 1940s, and additions to the original structure were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Taveirne Middle School was built in 1972, Gallichio said.

Any usable items that remained in the buildings were removed before the beginning of demolition work, she said.

“The items that were in usable condition we have taken,” she said. “Some of them will be used, and some of them will be sold in the spring.”

Some items also were donated to Gavin School District 37, she said.

Gallichio said she was optimistic that the demolition would help in ongoing efforts to sell the property.

Since students and teachers moved into new schools in 2006, the district has been unable to find a buyer for the property at its $5 million asking price.

The empty buildings were condemned last year by Fox Lake officials after they were found to be unsafe and unfit for human occupancy.

Police records also indicated numerous break-ins and vandalism had happened at the buildings, and that homeless people had been living in the former schools, village officials said.

Fox Lake Mayor Ed Bender said demolishing the old buildings was better than having them sit vacant.

But a retail development that generates sales tax dollars for the village is what really is needed at the corner, he said.

In conversations he has had with potential developers about the property, the $5 million price tag repeatedly has been cited as too high, Bender said.

“I’m hoping that [the district is] a little bit flexible on their pricing,” Bender said. “Apparently they don’t realize that the real estate market has gone to hell.”

Gallichio said the board of education would discuss plans for the property at its meeting in February.

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