After a recent full weekend of live fire training inside portable classrooms at the old Waldport High School, this weekend they began burning down about two thirds of what was left of the school. Firefighters from throughout the region, getting a training of a lifetime it was said, torched the southeast section of the school which contained the school administration offices and a shop area. Then they set fire to the gymnasium.
Here’s how it looked as they set out to burn the old high school down…
Waldport Mayor Susan Woodruff, who was on hand to witness the fire, said once firefighters complete the burn on Sunday, and the debris is hauled away, the town and the school district can get busy planning on a change of ownership for the land, preferably to the city, so that the 11.5 acres can be properly planned for and made ready to contain ball fields, basketball courts, picnic areas, pathways, community gardens, a dog park or any number of other options. Woodruff said maintaining all of that will take a permanent source of predictable funding. She said the idea of establishing a regional recreation district has been kicked around – a district that would levy a small property tax to keep it mowed, kept clean, equipment maintained, properly scheduled among competing users, etc. The Port of Alsea is one such district that maintains the docks and boat ramp on the Alsea River.
Woodruff said she’d like to see a signed agreement between the city and the school district, transferring ownership to the city, within a few months. The public process of determining what purposes the land should be put to will take a number of months, she said, certainly enough time for everyone to have their say. Under strict regulations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which bought the development rights to the land, no permanent structures can be built on the property because in the event of a tsunami, permanent structures can end up becoming battering rams on properties upstream as the tsunami moves inland from the sea.
The burn to take down the rest of the high school, mainly the classrooms on the east side of the campus, will begin sometime in the 8 o’clock hour Sunday morning.