Structural Problems Found At Senior Center; Fix Could Top $100K

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Aging , Infrastructure

The Chatham Senior Center. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM After a crack appeared in the ceiling of the computer training room, town officials brought in a structural engineer to check the condition of the council on aging building on Stony Hill Road. The results weren't good, and officials say the repairs could top $100,000.

The problem was discovered in March, and the engineer recommended the installation of a steel beam to better support the roof. Without the fix, that portion of the roof would be in danger of collapsing under a heavy snow load.

Principal Projects and Operations Administrator Terry Whalen said the building is safe for use and is in no imminent danger.

“If we don't replace the roof beam, we would need to be shoveling the roof whenever there is a snow load,” he said. Given the height, using roof shovels would be a challenge, he noted. “We don't want to have to close the building, or obviously, have a collapse,” Whalen said.

The engineer inspected the rest of the building and discovered another problem: sagging in a portion of the foundation.

“Quite frankly there's been some settling over there that needs to be shored up,” he said.

The repairs were put out to bid, and the sealed bids were opened on Sept. 13. Three companies bid on the roof beam installation job: the Nadeau Corp. of South Attleboro for $27,500; Eastward Companies of Chatham for $28,178; and Cape Cod Builders of Buzzards Bay for $73,323. The job should be awarded soon, perhaps later this week, and must be installed within 30 days of the start of work.

More problematic are the foundation repairs. The structural engineer recommends the use of helical jack piles which are essentially screwed deep in the ground at the edge of the foundation, and then used to jack up the sagging portion of the foundation. The lone bid for this repair was from Nadeau, at $74,800.

“We're getting some clarification from the contractor,” and may need to obtain additional quotes, Whalen said. If the figure stands, the total amount might be more than the town has in its general facilities budget, and a capital request might be needed. Coupled with the cost of the lowest bid on the roof beam and the cost of the structural engineer, the amount would be over $100,000.

At last week's meeting of the board of selectmen, board member Jeffrey Dykens chafed at the expense.

“That's a fairly significant structural roof repair that I think people ought to be aware of,” he said.

The town is in the process of evaluating locations and designs for a replacement senior center. The current building on Stony Hill Road was not designed for its current use, and various programs are held on all three levels of the building, posing potential danger should the building need to be quickly evacuated. The current senior center also lacks important program spaces, like private interview areas for one-on-one casework.

“I just want the public to know that we're dumping money into the council on aging facility [that] we're hoping to replace here in the near future,” Dykens said.