Westfield council approves school roof measure

WESTFIELD – The City Council unanimously approved a School Department request to submit a funding application to the state for roof replacement at two elementary schools.
The council approved a Statement of Interest which will be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to secure state funding to replace roofs at the Paper Mill and Munger Hill elementary schools.
If the MSBA approves funding for the $2.2 million project, the state agency will provide 62.74 percent of the project funding. The city will be responsible for $819,710 of the roof replacement effort.
Frank Maher, director of operations, maintenance and food services, said the two roofs are rubber membrane structures that were installed when the two sister school buildings were constructed in 1990 and opened in 1991.
“These are identical schools,” Maher said. “On June 1, a weather event, a tornado, took the roof off the kindergarten wing of the Munger Hill School.”
“Our first move was to bring in Tighe & Bond to determine if it was structurally safe to bring the kids back in,” Maher said. “What they found was that the building is sound, but that the (membrane) roof is beyond its useful life.”
“They determined that algae is eating into the rubber, causing pin holes,” Maher said.
Officials then expanded the roof examination to include the Paper Mill Elementary School roof and discovered the same problem.
“The algae is breaking down the membrane and the resulting pinholes will cause a shower effect, leakage through the entire roof, which will cause further interior damage,” Maher said.
Maher said that he filed an emergency statement of intent following the June 1 tornado, but MSBA action was deferred until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had completed an inspection and assessment of the tornado-related damage.
The School Committee voted Monday to approve that June SOI and referred it to the City Council for a vote Thursday night. Maher said the SOI has to be submitted prior to November 30.
The SOI, if approved by the MSBA, will require the City Council to approve the entire $2.2 million bond because the city cannot bid a project without having the money to fund it in place. The MSBA refunds the city as the money is spent.

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