Brookfield Local School District’s heads of building maintenance presented a detailed list of problem areas April 26 to the school board that would take years to fix and untold millions of dollars.
The district’s school building only opened in 2011, but it has a major problem with the rock shifting under the middle school, and the life expectancy of the roof shingles has been greatly reduced because of poor ventilation, said Rick Dudzenski, transportation and facility supervisor, and Randy Clark, maintenance supervisor.
In addition, much of the driveway around the building needs ripped out and replaced, and there are major safety issues at the football field on Addison Road and the bus garage on Grove Street.
At this point, the only project that is definitely going ahead is building a parking lot and platform on the west side of the athletic track for handicapped accessibility. This has become a priority because the soccer teams – soccer was approved as a varsity sport last fall – will play their homes games there, Dudzenski said.
An asphalt parking lot will be built next to the track to accommodate four or five vehicles, along with a platform on which handicapped people and their companions can view the games, Dudzenski said. The platform will use the existing fence as a front and there will not be a bar blocking the view of people in wheelchairs, which is a problem at the football field.
Vehicles will travel from the main parking lot up the existing gravel path to the handicapped accessible parking lot, Clark said.
The work will be done in July – Davano Paving, West Middlesex, will handle the excavation and paving, and school employees will construct the platform – for about $8,500, Dudzenski said.
The next priority is the bus garage. The original garage – and parts of it still exist – was built in 1930, and added onto in 1950 because buses were getting longer, Dudzenski said. The district built a steel pole barn across the property in 1980 to house more bus bays.
“The 1930 side is completely in disrepair,” Dudzenski said. The split-faced blocks are rotting and “fall out every day,” he said.
Adequate drainage was never installed so water is a factor in the deterioration and the bare ground under the buses holds the water, which promotes rust in the buses, he said.
Dudzenski presented two options: tearing down the 1930 garage and the pole building, constructing a 14-bay garage with a concrete floor, and regrading the parking lot and adding new gravel for about $200,000; or tearing down the old garage and adding six bays to the pole building for about $100,000.
“Time line to get it done, as soon as financially we have the money to get it done, we need to move on it,” Dudzenski said.
Board member Ron Brennan asked why a bus garage couldn’t be built at the school campus on Bedford Road.
Dudzenski said the most expensive item in building a bus garage is the mechanic’s bay, and the one on Grove Street is sound.
“The other downfall about moving it here: we have 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel,” Dudzenski said. “That in-ground tank would have to come out.”
Moving on to the middle school, Clark said the ground under the center of the middle school wing has been moving since the school opened. As you walk down the hallway, there are noticeable inclines and declines in the floor, which has cracked. The hallway is about three inches higher than the bathroom because of the movement, and there is a section in Daniel Madeline’s classroom that has lifted an inch or so.
Cracks have formed in the walls of the public bathroom, a staff bathroom, and Madeline’s and Miriam Necastro’s classrooms, and Necastro’s door will not close properly. Maintenance workers have tied up ceiling tiles in the bathroom to keep them from falling.
A repair in 2013 did not work and probably made the problem worse, Clark said.
When the building was built, workers removed about 22 feet of material from the area where the middle school now sits, which took pressure off the shale, he said.
“The worst thing with shale is exposure to air and moisture, which we’ve done when we built the place, and in ’13 when they opened it back up, we exposed it to air and moisture again,” Dudzenski said.
Officials brought in CTL Engineering Inc., Columbus, and they said fixing the problem will require “removing all of the concrete, removing the block wall, removing a bunch of plumbing, the toilets, the sinks, custodial closets, gut the entire area, dig down eight feet to get all the old stuff out, pour in about four foot of gravel and backfill,” Dudzenski said. “On top of that, pour in four foot of concrete to hold the shale down so we can keep it from expanding any more. Once you pour the four foot of concrete, refinish the entire area. CTL Engineering is pretty confident (in proposed fix). They’ve seen this type of movement before. They have a lot of experience with it. It’s not a patch job. It’s not a cosmetic fix like we did in ’13. This is a solution to a problem.”
Dudeznski said the work probably will cost a minimum of $600,000, if not more than $1 million, but nothing can be done until the shale stops moving. Crack gauges installed in January show it has moved an eighth of an inch in that time.
“We’re looking at 2019 to 2020,” before any work can be done, Dudzenski said.
“CTL says structurally the building is safe,” said Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor. “It’s not going to collapse or anything like that. Our biggest concern is trip hazards with the floors not being even.”
Other problem areas identified by school officials:
- The driving area around the school, particularly on the elementary school side, is falling apart. “The problem over there is it’s 20 feet of fill,” Dudzenski said. “They never compacted it enough, when they put the drainage in down the middle. They never allowed for the extra weight of the buses. They made the bus lane six inches or eight inches of blacktop but the entire driveway’s four, and in some places, 2.5.” Kirila Contractors Inc., Brookfield, estimated it would take $195,000 to rip out a 25-foot wide strip of pavement about half way around the building, dig down about two feet, and then build it back up with fill and pavement.
- The shingles on the school building are lifting when the temperature changes, and cracking. “Those lifts are from not correct ventilation when they built the place,” Dudzenski said. “We may have 10 years left before we start talking about a replacement.” “We’re lucky to get 20 years out of 50-year shingles,” Clark said. Officials said they have an estimate of $750,000 to replace the shingles and fix the ventilation system.
- The press box at the football field is falling into the locker rooms. Officials estimated it would take $50,000 to remove the press box and build a smaller one. This project is contingent on a proposal from a group of private citizens to raise money to build a new stadium on the school campus.
- The poles holding the lights at the football field are “completely rotted out” after nearly 70 years, Dudzenski said. “We’re waiting for them to fall,” he said.
Taylor said officials have been in touch with an attorney and various parties involved to try to ascertain who is at fault for the problems at the middle school, the roof and the paving. She said there is a lot of finger-pointing going on, but believes the school has a proper paper trail to support legal action.