Bringing down the house

Krystle Wagner • Jan 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — Construction equipment roared to life Thursday outside the former residence of St. Mary’s Catholic Church priests in Spring Lake.

Tricia Suchecki’s third-grade class cheered as the machine’s claw ripped apart the old house at 432 E. Exchange St. to make way for a nearly 23,000-square-foot building that will house St. Mary’s Catholic School, faith formation classes and adult education courses.

Father Dave Gross sat behind the controls, moving the machine to start the demolition.

Once crews finish demolishing the house and cleaning up the rubble, they will level the area off with dirt. The project is expected to be completed by early next week, Gross said.

Although more fundraising is being done and the new building has yet to break down, Gross said it’s nice having a visual representation about the progress being made after years of planning and discussion surrounding it.

Since 2012, the church’s Mary, Seat of Wisdom Campaign has received pledges totaling $2.8 million toward the $5.8 million project. Of that, $2.427 million has already been collected.

Before the project can break ground this spring, an additional $250,000 to $300,000 needs to be collected by the end of February, church officials say.

The new education center will be attached to the church on the southeast side of the building. It will house preschool through eighth-grade classes, resource space, staff work space, and room for art and science classes.

The current middle school wing of St. Mary’s School will be demolished for “green” space and parking. The remainder of the building will be remodeled into storage and the parish’s food pantry.

As of now, the building is slated to open for the 2016-17 school year.

Suchecki’s class watched the demolition from their classroom window before venturing outdoors into the sleet on Thursday.

Suchecki said it’s an exciting time, and the class has talked about what the new school will mean to them.

“It’s fun to think about all that lies ahead next year,” she said.

To donate to the campaign or specific aspects of the project, contact the parish office at 616-842-1702 or visit the campaign’s website at msowcampaign.org.

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