Historical CWL Plant Set for Demolition

June 30, 2003 - Posted at: 6:44 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- For the last 78 years the old City Water and Light plant at the intersection of Main Street and Johnson Avenue in Jonesboro has been a historical landmark.

In April of 2001, the CWL Board of Directors granted the building a two-year reprieve. During that period, no group was able to raise the funds to buy the property. But now demolition is the verdict for the historical facility.

After 50 years of service, the original CWL plant was retired in the late 1970s. Since it's conception the building has been a landmark in Craighead County.

"This building was built in the years 1925 and '26 and it was a large undertaking project for Jonesboro and Craighead County," Danny Honnoll of the Craighead County Historical Society said.

Cooper Construction began a 180-day project that will demolish this historical building.

"This morning he's just been trying to get a feel for the building and the walls on it and how thick they were and that kind of stuff and how it's going to go," Erik Looney of Cooper said.

"I think people will miss having this mammoth structure on this corner because you can not take down a building like this and it won't be missed," Honnoll said. "It will change how people see this corner here."

Now those with Cooper Construction say they don't know when the demolition will be completed, but they do have a plan in place.

"Well first of all we're knocking down this first corner of the building here," Looney said. "And we're knocking it down, it should only take a day of two to get it down."

But the building's strong structure prompted the crew to decide on a bigger wrecking ball and different approach for this job.

"We're gonna try lowering it on the roof to weaken the roof structure and concrete slab up there," Looney said. "And then we're gonna try after we weaken it, to knock the outside walls down to the inside to keep it out of the traffic lanes."

Once this process is completed, CWL will remove existing equipment in the building and preservationists will be allowed to gather their own piece of history. The demolition project will cost CWL around $49,000. The price includes restoration of the land. The exact use of the land is yet to be determined.