SALEM - The tearing down of the Reilly Wall along Pershing Street is scheduled to begin Monday, requiring the closing of Pershing Street from Ohio Avenue to Strotter Brown Avenue for at least two or three days.
The city school board has been talking about demolishing the deteriorating wall the past two months and approved a bid Wednesday from Hippley Excavating for $5,900.
The project calls for removal of the wall along Pershing and the first two sections facing east behind the band stands, with the work not to exceed three days, weather permitting.
Superintendent Tom Bratten said he spoke to Library Director Brad Stephens and St. Paul School Principal Patricia Bauman about the street being closed. People will still have access to the library parking lot via State Street. Parents used to picking up or dropping off their children at the parochial school from the entrance on Pershing Street will have to make alternate plans. The school parking lot can be accessed from Ohio Avenue.
He said the all-call system will be used to notify parents about Pershing Street being closed. He noted the alley known as Strotter Brown Avenue leading to the Memorial Building parking will still be open. Pershing Street will have to be closed because the wall will be brought down in the direction of the street.
A temporary chain link metal fence will be put in place immediately, with Rent National Fence Company providing the fence at a cost of $1,850 for one year. Board member Steve Bailey, who sits on the board's Building and Grounds Committee, said he's expecting the temporary fence to be there at least through next winter.
The Salem Preservation Society has been working with the school board to restore the crumbling wall around Reilly Stadium, which is considered to be a historic landmark, launching the Reilly Wall Project campaign last March. The goal has been to raise $650,000 to redo the entire wall along Pershing Street.
The plans included demolition of the wall, construction of a new wall with a new foundation, placement of finials on the columns, similar to the large balls that sat on the original wall, construction of a new ticket booth similar to the original one but large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, placement of wrought-iron gates for a new entry area and installation of a dedication area with trees, benches, bricks and bronze memorials.
Bailey said the group is still working on raising the necessary funds. Since the school board is paying for the demolition, the group won't have to cover that cost.
The bricks from the wall will be taken to an undisclosed location. David Schwartz, of the Reilly Wall Project Committee, said some of the bricks will be used to help raise funds for the renovation, as paperweights, souvenir slices or memorial bricks, all for purchase.
"We will announce the plans in the coming weeks," he said.
For details about the Reilly Wall project, to view drawings or read the history about the wall and Reilly Stadium, check the Salem Preservation Society website at www.salempreservationsociety.org or the Reilly Wall Project website at www.reillywallproject.org.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org