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Pensupreme smokestack coming down for charter school

Alyssa Pressler
York Dispatch
  • The Pensupreme smokestack will come down in January to make room for a high school.
  • York Academy has been working toward approval for a new high school for several months.

York Academy officials are moving forward with plans to construct a new high school, and the first step is to tear down a prominent piece of York City's past in January. 

Michael Lowe, supervisor of instructional development at York Academy Area Charter School, said a study was done to see if the school could keep the Pensupreme smokestack along the north bank of the Codorus Creek as part of the future high school building, but it wasn't feasible. 

York Academy Regional Charter School is purchasing four properties, including the Pensupreme building along Hamilton Avenue, for expansion. Monday, July 11, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

The school used a drone to inspect the sides, top and interior of the smokestack. The money needed for repairs would have taken away from making the new high school the best possible education center it could be, Lowe said. 

"We looked at redirecting our limited funds to best serve our students," Lowe said. 

The school is unsure who exactly will tear down the smokestack and an adjoining building, a project that will take place from January to April or May. LSC Design Inc., a local architecture firm, has been part of the design discussions related to the high school for the last year. Wagman Construction will begin building the high school after the tearing down of the existing building and smokestack. 

Though some might be sad to see a piece of York's history come down, Lowe said support for the new school has been overwhelming. The charter school did its "due diligence" to ensure the smokestack could not be saved, which he said has helped people understand why it must be demolished. Additionally, he said, community members are excited to see the new school and what it will do for the community. 

The school will eventually be located between North Beaver Street and North George Street along Hamilton Avenue, across the Codorus Creek from the current school. Plans for building a new high school have been in the works for about a year. 

The property, which for much of the last century housed Pensupreme Dairy, was purchased for $695,000 in July. York Academy has been continually adding grades since its opening in 2011, when it housed kindergarten through second grade. Currently, York Academy teaches grades K-7, so administrators have recognized the need for a high school to house the freshman class that will start in fall 2018. 

York Academy Regional Charter School is purchasing four properties, including the Pensupreme building along Hamilton Avenue, for expansion. Monday, July 11, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

The York City zoning board approved the York Academy expansion in late July, and since then York Academy has gone to its three charter districts to seek approval. York City School District, Central York School District and York Suburban School District have approved the expansion in board meetings throughout the last few months. 

Zoning board approves York Academy expansion

Lowe said it is very exciting that the school is now moving forward with its plans. 

"It's exciting to see the work put into the process come to fruition," Lowe said.