MOUNT VERNON — There’s more than meets the eye to the demolition of the former PPG glassworks. The southside project is a key element of a larger mission to expand and enhance Ariel-Foundation Park, and slowly but surely a sprawling cluster of aged buildings is coming down. Casual observers see a clash between the wrecking ball and century-old brick and steel, an unfair fight inevitably to be won by the machines. Look closer, though, and you discover a super-sized game of Pick-up Sticks.
The project is about demolition. It’s about salvage. It’s about repurposing or recycling mountains of debris. In the end, it’s also about preservation, and that’s why the Ariel-Foundation Park Conservancy sees the 59-acre PPG site as much more than today’s rubble and tomorrow’s green space.
Most of the demolition is as straightforward as tearing down walls and processing the remains. But portions of the plant will be spared, and that’s where light hands are needed on heavy equipment. Crews from Messaros Demolition maintain close contact with Ted Schnormeier, the conservancy’s project administrator. Some walls are joined at the hip, yet face different fates. One stays, one goes. It’s reminiscent of the old parlor game, with Messaros paid to strip away unwanted “sticks” without upsetting the pile.
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