New Southwick fire station roof will be put to voters

The Southwick Fire Station needs a new roof after 20 years of water and moisture damage. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Select Board Feb. 4 approved moving forward to replace the Fire Department’s roof. The station has suffered from water damage over the past two decades because of the faulty roof.

Consulting engineering firm Tighe and Bond last month recommended the roof and gutters be replaced and mortar repaired following a study of all municipal buildings. During a joint Select Board and Finance Committee meeting two weeks ago, Tighe and Bond representatives outlined the options, which included an asphalt shingle roof or a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) membrane. The Board Tuesday approved moving forward with the membrane, which has a similar appearance to a metal roof and an expected life of 30 years.

Cost for the membrane is estimated at $1,036.296, with asphalt shingles costing about $75,000 less.

The station was built in 2000 and the roof was a problem almost immediately, said Southwick Select Board Chairman Russell Fox.

Fox said at the time of construction the roof was touted as needing a specialist to install it. Fox said he should have known there would be a problem when the roof installer hired local workers who were not experienced. Fox recalled he even purchased equipment – including ladders – in town and was not prepared for the job. Fox said he was a little worried about going with the membrane because it also required installation by a specialist.

Members of the Southwick Finance Committee met with the Board to discuss the two options Tuesday. Two committee members abstained from voting based on their lack of knowledge of the membrane while the other members said they would recommend the membrane with the caveat that there be some guarantees written into the contract.

“We just need to pay attention to protect the town,” said Finance Committee member Art Pinell.

Anderson also supported the membrane. This was the non-traditional option that Anderson believed would eliminate the moisture leaks that have created problems with the current roof.

The next step, Anderson said, is for the consultants to design gutter repair details and scope of work, then go to bid so there is an accurate number for the Annual Town Meeting.

“We are hopeful they come in lower,” Anderson said.

Voters will decide to fund the project and how. Anderson said he was not sure if the entire project would be bonded or if some other funds would be used. The Annual Town Meeting is May 19.

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