Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Hearing set on repairs to leaky school administration building roof

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
January 22, 2008

VERNON - With a good gust, slate shingles have been know to fly off the roof of the school administration building, and the plaster walls on the third floor are seriously water damaged from leaks above, school and town officials say.

The multipeaked Victorian-era building on Park Street is in desperate need of repair, and a public hearing to finance the job is being held tonight at 7:45 at the senior center, 26 Park Place, before the Town Council meeting.

The price tag for the project totals $330,000.

Mayor Jason L. McCoy is asking the Town Council tonight to approve a $200,000 appropriation from the general fund toward that end.

That will cover about two-thirds of the work, however, so another $133,000 will be taken from the Education Reserve for Capital and Non-Recurring Expenditures - a fund managed by the town and generated from leftover monies on past projects that came in under budget, school officials say.

The account is used primarily for emergency repairs, Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine A. Rebai said, adding that this project will pretty much drain it dry.

"It will leave us with a balance of $27,000," she said. For some time, until the fund can be restored, "we're going to have to pray that nothing goes wrong with any of the other buildings."

Emergency repairs are needed now, before the administration building is seriously damaged, School Superintendent Richard Paskiewicz said.

Built in 1892, the historical three-story structure once housed Rockville High School, and then the middle school. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the appearance of the exterior can't be altered.

The last time the building underwent major renovations was in the early 1990s, when bricks were falling daily on the sidewalk below.

Then, the roughly $1 million project paid for some patchwork to the roof as well as re-mortaring of brickwork.

But the major thrust was to install an elevator and ramps to make the building accessible to the disabled, and renovate the previously unused third floor.

"But now the roof is really bad. It's never been totally done and we have to deal with it now before it gets worse," Rebai said, adding, "I'm not sure what we're going to find behind the walls."

Plans call for removing the roof turrets for repair and resealing, as well as lifting the granite dormer caps and repointing all granite sills. Brickwork will be reconstructed and slate shingles will need to be replaced in areas.

Inside the building the plaster walls and ceilings will need to be repaired and replaced, primarily in the rear stairwell area of the third floor.

"Occasionally, some pieces of slate now fall off the roof and the leaks aren't going away - it's just going to continue to get worse," Paskiewicz said.

Financing for the repairs were in the school's Capital Improvements Plan for the last two years, which, traditionally is decimated after voters reject the budget.

Last year, only $40,000 was available to keep the school's buildings maintained, Rebai said. "We just have no money to fix this," she said.

Paskiewicz said: "It's a wonderful old building, and we want to preserve it."

©Journal Inquirer 2008