Water Concerns at West Ishpeming School

A vacant school in Ishpeming Township has passed into history.

Nearby residents were already concerned about hazardous chemicals inside.

But they’re now worried that those chemicals may have seeped outside.

The West Ishpeming School is now nothing but a memory.

The last of the 94-year-old walls came down late yesterday.

Nearby resident Don Meyer says although it was a great school at one time which he attended in the 1970s, he knows it had to come down because it had become dangerous.

But he and other neighbors hope the school hasn’t left behind another chemical surprise to go along with the asbestos, lead paint, mercury and other chemicals they know about.

Two days ago, a large pool of water formed near the edge of the school property.

Much of it, if not all, is likely runoff from the water contractors sprayed on the walls during the demolition process to prevent asbestos dust from spreading through the air.

But residents say some of it may also have come from inside the school — from an old, stopped-up drain pipe in the basement.

If some of the water did come from there, it may have carried chemical contamination with it into the soil.

Marquette County treasurer and Land Bank Authority chair Ann Giroux says they, the contractor and the township don’t know where the pooled-up water came from.

She says within the next few weeks, the Traverse City environmental contractor already working on the project will conduct soil tests to see if there’s any chemical contamination.

Giroux says the contractor has told her snowfall won’t be a problem, so the tests won’t have to wait until next spring.

Meanwhile, one of the school’s more vocal neighbors asks his neighbors to stay alert and use caution.

Eric Hinze says if anyone has any concern about how the demolition process is handled, they shouldn’t sleep on it — they should delve into it further and ask around.

The township Planning Commission has a meeting at 7 tonight at the Ishpeming Township hall.

Many residents from the neighborhood surrounding the school are expected to be there.

Mike Hoey will also have more about it tomorrow on ABC 10 News Now.