Commotion on the corner

Posted by: Casey Adams on Oct 31, 2011

Though a piece of NOLS history came down last week, it’s well on its way to becoming part of the forward-looking headquarters campus in Lander, Wyo. Demolition crews started tearing down the Kennedy Building on Third Street Oct. 24. Today, their work is nearly complete. Within two weeks, Rocky Mountain Branch Director Gary Cukjati said, it should be a complete parking lot with green space. The project should increase parking spaces on the Third Street lot by eight to 10 and double the green space on the block.

“We’re hoping for more efficient parking with increased parking plus a much better looking space in terms of green versus dirt,” Cukjati said. Access to the parking lot will likely be from Third Street; the lot will have one-way flow and exit on Lincoln Street.

“There’s been a great deal of thought of how to balance parking with green space,” he said.

Kennedy Demolition 1
Wyoming Demolition did the demo work on the Kennedy Building. It will be replaced with additional parking and green space. Photo by Lindsay D'Addato

NOLS first bought the Kennedy building in the 1990s to house the growing needs and staff of headquarters. It didn’t take long for NOLS to outgrow the space. Upon the completion of the current headquarters building on Lincoln Street in 2002, NOLS transitioned the Kennedy Building into a rental. However, because the space is actually two buildings united, the layout was not comfortable or convenient to many renters.

Given the additional need for extensive—namely, roof— repairs, the decision to raze rather than renovate was made this year. In fact, Gary pointed out roof repairs alone probably would have cost more than the demolition. On top of it all, the leaky roof had allowed for the development of mold in the Kennedy Building. Finally, as Wyoming Demolition started their work, it became clear the stability of the walls was “not great.”

“It was a good the building came down,” Cukjati said. “It was basically falling apart.”

Kennedy Demolition 2
Crews made quick work of the bricks and cinderblocks, providing a glimpse into the future of the space. Photo by Lindsay D'Addato

No real plans for the now-empty lot were settled upon until late last week, as “we didn’t know what we’d find until we tore the building down,” Cukjati explained. “We didn’t know what we’d have to do.”

As the demo progressed and ideas surfaced, plans for the lot’s next role changed almost daily. In fact, they may change again as crews wrap up the demolition and clean up the lot.

Substantial concrete slabs were discovered in this process, and they will serve headquarters vehicles well. Cleaning the lot, configuring the parking, resurfacing what parking already exists, and establishing the new green space should be complete in about two weeks, but Cukjati stressed the timeline is flexible and the November weather is, ultimately, going to call the shots.

“It’s difficult to do much under a foot of snow,” he noted.

Assuming Mother Nature’s cooperation, the few NOLS employees who drive to headquarters will be welcomed by a new, flow-through lot in a matter of weeks

Casey worked as a writer and PR specialist for NOLS.