NEWTOWN, Conn. – Neighbors of the elementary school where 20 children and six adults were shot dead last year expressed relief as workers tore down parts of it on Friday.
Demolition of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which began in earnest on Thursday, is expected to take several weeks.
Bill Clark, who lives across the street, said he believes it's going to take a long time for the community to heal after the December shooting massacre, committed by a gunman who had killed his mother at home before going to the school and who later killed himself as police closed in.
"We're a very strong community, and we're going to overcome this," Clark said. "We're going to move on, and they're going to put up another beautiful school and we're going to move on."
A task force of 28 Newtown elected officials voted unanimously in May to raze the school and build a new one on the property where it's located.
Newtown has accepted a $50 million state grant for the project, and a new school is expected to open by December 2016. Students have been attending classes in a neighboring town.
Cliff Rothe, owner of the nearby Sandy Hook Diner, is among those who support the plan.
"For the sake of the kids that were there, the teachers that will be there years even after the kids that were enrolled there then are gone, the teachers are still going to be there," he said. "It was an old school to begin with, so, yeah, tear it down and put a new one."
Contractors are being asked to destroy materials to eliminate nearly every trace of the building, an effort officials have said is intended to protect the victims' privacy and keep people from taking parts of the building as souvenirs.
Contractors also are required to sign confidentiality agreements to forbid public discussion of the site and the building.