WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. -- For 142 years, the historic Mount Pleasant School stood tall off Hackensack Street and Union Avenue in Wood-Ridge. So it was with mixed emotions that some responded to its demolition last week.
"I was devastated," said Carol Merritt-Brautigan, who attended the four-classroom brick school more than four decades ago, following both of her parents.
"It was like an icon," said Merritt-Brautigan, who rushed to the site to collect some brick keepsakes after discovering the school's demise on Facebook. "It's like history has been lost."
Built in 1873, the former elementary school endured into the late 1970s, when it become a district office. Three years ago it was abandoned.
Following several discussions since then, the Borough Council agreed last month to raze the building.
"The infrastructure was failing, it was not handicap-accessible and the boiler heating system was being condemned," Mayor Paul Sarlo said.
A new heating system alone would have cost $200,000, said Sarlo, after which there still would have been the tattered roof, failing staircases -- and asbestos.
"It became so cost prohibitive, there was no other option than to take it down," he said.
A municipal parking lot with new landscaping will provide spots for residents visiting Borough Hall who have had to park on the street.
All told, the construction and demolition are running an estimated $150,000. The work should be completed by late fall or early winter.
Another almnus, John Marasciulo, said he was split on Mount Pleasant's eventual fate.
"I was sad to see it go," he said, "but I understand progress. Right now it is a parking lot so that isn't much progress, but I am sure down the road (the space) will be used for a municipal building."
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