Fri04252014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Collapse threat hinders progress

At the September Colonial Beach school board meeting members were stumped by the need for structural engineering services required by Colonial Beach Building Inspector Dextor Monroe. New details from Monroe shed light on his requirements. 

Monroe said in a phone interview Tuesday morning, Sept. 18, that the original engineer’s report from September 2011 stated that the building’s roof was in danger of collapse in the original two-story section.

In a report from Stroud, Pence & Associates, Ltd. dated September 16, 2011 the structural engineer stated that the main two-story structure’s roof has damage likely due to a design flaw when the building was built. Two of the large wood trusses show outward displacement. 

Monroe clarified that in order for the school to occupy and use the gymnasium for assemblies and the school bathrooms, a structural engineer would have to sign off that the original structure did not pose any danger to these other areas in the event of a collapse or all repairs to the two story section must be completed before occupancy. 

When The Journal spoke with Superintendent Donna Power last week, she was unaware of the scope of Monroe’s requirements. 

The bathrooms and the gymnasium are part of a roughly 50 year-old, one story addition to the original two story structure. Last year’s Earthquake, Huricane Irene, and torrential rains from Tropical Storm Lee caused severe water damage to the bathrooms within this section of the building. During a full inspection damage in the roof of the main building, caused by a design flaw that was never caught, became evident and cause for concern. 

 The building was then evacuated at the instruction of Monroe, and students were dispersed throughout the campus until a new middle school mod pod was installed last January on the high school campus.

The school board and administration have been working towards repairing the bathrooms in the one story addition to allow the gym to be used for assemblies. To date, the fire marshal has declared the gymnasium safe but only for 49 or less people at one time. 

FEMA has awarded the school system $10,000 for the repairs to the school building but the money is allocated for a specific list of supplies. According to Dr. Power this list of supplies was determined from a previous structural engineer’s report by Stroud, Pence & Associates performed last year when damage was discovered after the three disasters. The supplies only cover repairs to the bathrooms. 

During the meeting Kathleen Beane presented the board with a copy of  the structural engineer’s estimates for services from Stroud, Pence & Associates, Ltd. totaling $7,670. The scope of service includes design of structural repairs to the existing damaged roof structure in the bathrooms recommended in their September 16, 2011 report.

Stroud, Pence and Associates lists their scope of work in their estimate as one inspection visit after all ceiling tiles are removed in the affected bathrooms, preparation of structural repair document, and a final inspection after the work is complete. 

School Board Chairman Tim Trivett had questioned the need for the engineer’s services since the school had already paid for the previous report from Sept which he said lists all the work needed to be done. 

Trivett said, “The structural engineer already did a report.” then asked, “So why can’t the building inspector for the town inspect the work when it’s done?” adding, “The engineers report is very clear what needs to be done.”

When asked that question, Monroe said he is trained to inspect for application of building codes. Monroe said this situation calls for a structural engineer to ensure the safety of occupants in the building if repairs to the two story roof are not completed before partial occupancy of the one story section. 

Linda Farneth

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