Pensupreme Dairy demolition to start next week

Jason Addy

Demolition crews are scheduled to begin razing the former Pensupreme Dairy property next week to make room for the York Academy Regional Charter School’s new high school.

York Academy’s plan to build a school to house grades eight through 12 was given the final green light Tuesday night, when the York City Council unanimously approved the charter school’s land development plan outlining demolition and construction at the site.

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

York Academy CEO Dennis Baughman said crews recently finished asbestos removal at the dairy on the north side of West Hamilton Avenue and are now finishing cleanup at the boiler building on the south side of the street.

Demolition crews will begin moving equipment to the site in the middle of next week, Baughman said, indicating demolition will begin on the south side of the property before crews move to the dairy and smokestack.

Pensupreme smokestack coming down for charter school

The dairy-and-smokestack property will be turned into a parking lot for the three-story, 28,000-square-foot facility that is to be built across the street.

All demolition and construction contracts have been awarded, and final design and building specifications are in place, Baughman said.

Demolition is expected to take no more than a month, Baughman said, while construction will be completed in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Gradual growth: York Academy has continually added new grade levels since its opening in 2011, with the school offering grades K-7 in the 2016-17 school year. By the start of the next school year, more space will be required to teach students as they move into high school.

York Academy plans to add high school

When the facility opens in fall 2018, it will have only eighth- and ninth-grade students, Baughman said, and the school will continue adding grade levels annually until it can educate students from kindergarten through high school graduation.

The facility, costing more than $20 million, will have space for 375 students, with 75 kids in each grade level, Baughman said.

Michael Lowe, supervisor of instructional development at York Academy, has said the plan is to break each grade level into three classes, each with 25 students.

Smokestack: At Wednesday’s council meeting, Franklin Williams, a member of the Zoning Hearing Board that unanimously approved four variances and a special exception in July 2016, asked Baughman why the Pensupreme smokestack could not be kept on the property.

Zoning board approves York Academy expansion

Baughman said the school understands the historical significance of the smokestack and “made every effort” to try to keep it.

The school hired a restoration company to assess the viability of preserving the smokestack, but at $400,000 to fix — plus another $50,000 to $100,000 every five years to maintain — it was too costly to justify, Baughman said.

“Obviously, as a charter school working (with) public money, I couldn’t afford to spend $400,000 to fix a smokestack,” Baughman said. “I couldn’t continue to spend $50,000 to $100,000 on maintaining a smokestack over periods of years. That’s money I could put into the education of children.”

Baughman told the council that the smokestack leans to the east and has bricks falling off the top, attributing the damage to an earthquake that hit the city several years ago.

Traffic concerns: With a new influx of students needing to get to school, some citizens and council members were concerned about traffic snarls and potential accidents around the intersection of North George Street and Hamilton Avenue.

A representative from LSC Design, which has been part of the high school design process for the last year and a half, said the company has completed a traffic impact study and is working to address additional requests from the city’s engineer.

Baughman said the school will stagger start times between the high school and the K-7 facility on the other side of Codorus Creek.

Because both facilities will be using the same buses, Baughman said the K-7 school will start about 10 to 15 minutes before the high school’s day begins.