WESTFIELD- The City Council voted Thursday, Aug. 16, to approve the refinancing of an existing school roof bond to allow surplus funds be used for additional work.
The original bond financed repairs last summer to the Southampton Road and Highland elementary school roofs. The bond was approved on the engineering estimate for the two roof projects. However, the contractor who was awarded the bid came in with a cost lower than the estimate, leaving an untapped surplus, or delta, in the bond.
While the work was being done on the two elementary schools roofs last summer, school officials and engineers from Tighe & Bond discovered a problem with the roofs of Munger Hill and Paper Mill elementary schools.
Frank Maher, director of operations, maintenance and food services, said, at a June School Committee meeting, that the roof damage was discovered to the two sister schools following the June 1, 2011 tornado that ripped a section of the kindergarten wing of Munger Hill Elementary School.
A local roofing company was hired to make an emergency repair, installing a temporary cover over the section of roof torn off the building during the tornado, until a permanent patch could be installed after the school year ended. The roofers discovered that there was extensive damage to the membrane of the entire roof caused by algae and acid rain, compromising the membrane with pinholes that allowed water to “weep” through the roof.
Maher then hired Tighe & Bond, a Westfield-based engineering consultant, to examine the roofs of both sister schools, which were built at the same time, based upon the identical design. The two roofs are rubber membrane structures that were installed when the two buildings were constructed in 1990 and opened in 1991. That examination found that the Paper Mill Elementary School roof was also compromised.
Maher, following the City Council’s vote to refinance the bond Thursday night, said that there are about $800,000 remaining in the Southampton Road/Highland roof bond, money that will be used for the design and schematic drawings needed for the bid documents, a step that will move the construction project forward at a quicker pace.
“The estimate to replace the roofs, which includes removal of the existing roofs, is $2.4 million,” Maher said. “Each roof is 68,000 square feet in area, so they are major projects.”
The Massachusetts School Building Authority has “invited” the city to participate in its accelerated repair program for roof replacement at Munger Hill and Paper Mill elementary schools. The MSBA invited the city to participate in the accelerated repair program established to repair or replace roofs, windows and/or boilers in school that are otherwise structurally, functionally and educational sound.
The goal of that program is to improve learning environments for children and teachers, reduce energy use and generate cost savings for districts.
Maher said the roof repair project will offer the city an opportunity to install much more efficient insulation under the membrane.
“We don’t have a contractor yet,” Maher said this morning. “We do have a project manager and designer selected. The MSBA tells you who you’re going to use.”
The project manager selected for the roof replacement effort is Vertex of Weymouth, while the designed is Knight, Bagge & Anderson (KBA) Inc., of Charlestown.
“We’re looking at going out to bid in March or April after the design and specifications are approved, with construction beginning the day school ends next June,” Maher said. “We’d like to get it substantially done before school starts next year.”
To see video of the August 16 City Council meeting, click here.