ELYRIA — With bangs and rumbles from falling bricks and debris, two three-story buildings on Broad Street were clawed through by demolition crews Wednesday to clear land for the Elyria Public Library System’s new Central Branch.
The long steel beam attachments on the demolition equipment — two large excavators — cut through the floors of the buildings at 314 and 322 Broad St. like knives, pulling down bricks, flooring and even some pieces of furniture and appliances left behind in several upstairs apartments.
A box fan, an old tube TV, couches and chairs, a filthy mattress and a refrigerator also fell from the apartments into the debris pile below. Bystanders watched as the demolition went on, taking photos and video with their cell phones.
Workers from D&R Demolition of Archbold, kept a steady stream of water on the crumbling building to keep the dust down. The bicentennial mural on the western wall of 322 Broad St. — crumbling due to moisture and weather damage in the soft bricks — also fell to the demolition crews.
Broad Street was closed from East Avenue to Chapel Street for safety purposes, and fencing was set up against the sidewalk on the north side of Broad Street.
Sitting on the sidewalk behind that fencing Wednesday, with her sons Garrick, 2, and Daxton, 5, was Cindy Pendergrass of Elyria. She and the boys snacked on popsicles as they watched the demolition.
It was Pendergrass’ “first destruction, first demolition in real life,” she said.
“This is entertainment,” Pendergrass said with a laugh, as her sons sat enthralled by the heavy machinery doing its work. “We’ve got our picnic blanket, popsicles and came out to get a show.”
A two-story red brick house at 121 East Ave. also was demolished Wednesday, one of last three remaining buildings at Broad Street and East Avenue to be removed before initial work on the future library site begins.
Elyria Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said that Broad Street will be open today, with restrictions only on parking in the 300 block in front of the demolition site.
“Unless there is something unforeseen, they don’t anticipate another road closure,” she said Wednesday. The target date for completion of the demolition work is Friday, Siwierka said.
Today should be warm, with a high of 73 degrees, though rain is forecast for tonight and Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Siwierka said the rain “will be helpful to keep things watered down” at the demolition site and keep dust from spreading.
Portions of the train mural to be demolished by the end of the week will be re-created by its original artist, David Pavlak, and fellow artists and volunteers on the exterior of the Elyria Arts Council building at 336 Broad St., Pavlak previously said.
Additionally, the Elyria Arts Council will have an event at noon May 25 in Pioneer Plaza where members of the public can obtain a brick from the train mural. Pavlak and other artists who worked on the mural will be on hand to autograph the bricks, he said.
Hot dogs, beverages and children’s activities also will be offered at the one-day event, a fundraiser for children’s programs at the Elyria Arts Council. In case of rain, the program will be indoors at the arts council. More information can be found on the Elyria Arts Council Facebook page.
The Elyria Public Library System does not yet have renderings showing what the new Central Branch library is expected to look like, Library Director Lyn Crouse said Wednesday.
The library paid $937,000 for all of the properties it needed for the new Central Branch to be built, including the closing costs, she said. The library contributed $600,000 with the Elyria Community Improvement Corporation contributing the remainder.
The new library is expected to cost $8 million and be completed by the end of 2020. Voters in the Elyria and Keystone school districts in November 2017 approved a 0.9-mill levy that will be in place for 30 years and generate more than $950,000 per year.
That money will be used to pay off the bonds the library takes out to finance construction of the new library branch, plus improvements to four of its other locations and the relocation of the South Branch to a new building from its temporary home in the Asbury United Methodist Church on Middle Avenue.
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