Mayor Mark Lauretti said the contractor who was initially booked to complete the Sunnyside Elementary School roof project, backed out of the deal when tests conducted on the school confirmed there was asbestos in the roof deck.
Lauretti said the contractor that had agreed to do the roof this summer came back to him in June and said, “because of the way the roof was constructed, over the years there was movement and some disintegration of the plates that support the roof, and there is some dust on the insulation above the ceiling tiles,” and as a result he wanted that dust tested or he wasn’t going to go forward with the project.
The mayor said the contractor didn’t want to be held responsible for any asbestos getting into the building that was already there so when the tests came back positive for asbestos he decided not to do the project.
“We’ve known there was asbestos in the roof for 30 years,” said Lauretti. “Everyone knew there was asbestos in the roof.
With nearly three weeks until the school year is set to begin, Lauretti said the city had no other option but to delay the full roof repairs another year and still fix its media center.
According to Lauretti, the city has decided to waive the bidding process on the 5,000 square foot project which covers more than just the media center, but actually one entire wing of the building. This means the state would no longer reimburse the city the $260,000 put towards the media center fix. Lauretti said he doesn’t recall the name of the previous contractor but the city has selected Silktown Roofing Inc. to complete the media center portion of the roof project.
“The reason we’re able to get the media center done is because it’s at the end of the work cycle in the summer and contractors are free now,” said Lauretti. “So that’s why we’re waiving bids because we don’t have time to go out to bid. We already gutted the media center because we anticipated the roof would be on the building by now and we would redo the media center. We committed to that back in April.”
Lauretti clarified that the city doesn’t plan to, nor have they ever conducted an asbestos abatement which would require a removal of the roof deck. Instead, the plan is to encase the asbestos.
Lone Democrat on the Board of Aldermen Jack Finn asked why the issue hadn’t been properly addressed when the project went out to bid and said he disagrees with the decision to encase the asbestos. Finn said he would rather do the abatement process to prevent the issue from reoccurring and he is concerned to whether or not the asbestos will get into the school.
One of the ward’s Alderman where the school is located, Eric McPherson said he disagrees with Finn because of the time constraints.
“These parents and families have waited long enough,” said Alderman McPherson.
According to an estimate given by the Board of Aldermen, the repairs on the library should take approximately one week which will be followed by a thorough cleaning of the area and then the media center’s new furniture will be moved in shortly after.
The mayor said weather will ultimately determine whether or not the 5,000 sq. ft. area can be completed in the allotted time.
“We are at the mercy of the weather and the contractor,” said Lauretti. “Anything is a possibility.”
The project is scheduled to begin on Aug. 20, according to the mayor but change those plans.
Board of Ed Chairman Mark Holden said he stands behind the city’s plan for the building repairs.
“I think that the city’s plan at this point is what makes the most sense,” said Holden.
“New furniture already being delivered to the school and will be moved in as soon as the roof is completed.”
Holden said the school can still open without the media center/library center being completed.