Town building maintenance is ‘top notch’

Southwick Fire Station

SOUTHWICK – According to Westfield-based engineering and environmental consulting firm Tighe & Bond, the town has been “top notch” in its general maintenance of town buildings.

“Interior-wise, it seems to me you’ve done a phenomenal job of providing maintenance,” Peter Papineau of Tighe & Bond told the Southwick Select Board Tuesday. “On the other hand, there are exteriors that have serious problems.”

Tighe & Bond assessed the Town Hall, Police Department, Fire Department, Southwick Library and Department of Public Works buildings following a $50,000 appropriation for the study at Town Meeting. Of those buildings, Papineau said the fire station is in most need of immediate repairs, while the DPW building simply does not meet the needs of the town.

Papineau nodded when an audience member suggested the DPW building should be sold. He said the roof needs to be replaced, including supplemental framing for snow support, and they need space to house apparatus that are currently outside exposed to the elements and slowly deteriorating, among other concerns.

“It’s a pre-engineered building so you can’t make a lot of changes,” Papineau said. “You can provide additions, but if the town has a parcel of land big enough, you’re better off building.”

Select Board Chairman Russell Fox said the town is still paying on the bond that purchased that building, which was Suburban Chevrolet for many years.

The report states that “the building is old and not well suited to programmatic requirements of the DPW.”

“Given the resulting numbers it is our opinion that the Town should consider relocating the DPW to a new facility specifically designed to accommodate their needs. The new building package is estimated to cost approximately $7 million at $350 per square foot,” the report states.

Papineau said one of the main concerns at the fire station is the elevator.

“The elevator systems are old and newer equipment trying to maintain an old elevator will be a problem,” he said, adding repairs are needed to the elevator car, new interior panels should be installed and the pump and machinery should be replaced, which would cost a total of approximately $150,000.

Smaller interior upgrades were recommended, but most of the fire station building concerns were with the exterior, including masonry repair, failed mortar joints, failed sealant joints, clogged wall cavity weep wells and gutter repair needs.

Some concerns at the police station were already addressed, said Police Chief Kevin A. Bishop, including power washing as a first step to masonry work, and weeding.

Other recommendations from Tighe & Bond included crack sealing the parking lot, upgrades to LED lighting on the exterior, installation of handicap ramps and reconfiguration of handicap spaces and cleaning limestone.

The interior is in good shape, said Papineau, however, there are no handicap accessible community spaces.

“Our suggestion is to take two or three of the garage bays for a handicap accessible community and training space,” Papineau said.

Tighe & Bond’s report breaks down concerns into action categories.

According to the report, “the goal of the assessment was to evaluate the operational and maintenance costs of the municipal buildings and related site assets.”

Much of the recommendations at the Town Hall and Library include exterior upkeep, particularly sealant replacement.

The report summarizes projected costs for repairs within the action categories. The immediate needs of Town Hall are estimated at $370,100, $1.7 million for the fire station, $382,100 at the police station, $49,200 at the library and $1.286,400 at the DPW for a total of $3,788,500.

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