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Wolfeboro reviews assessments of three more town facilities

September 02, 2010
WOLFEBORO — A thorough evaluation of the condition of five town facilities approved by voters has been completed, and the cost of correcting the problems identified is being developed, according to Public Works Director Dave Ford.

"We have addressed the immediate hazards identified and are developing cost estimates for the rest of the work, which we hope to present to selectmen in two weeks," Ford said. "While we found problems in all the buildings, it turns out that the Railroad Station was the worst case."

Shawn G. Bergeron of Bergeron Technical Services of North Conway had been called in to evaluate the Railroad Station last year before major work was done and he identified a number of hidden structural problems and life-safety code violations that needed to be addressed. As a result, only the most pressing problems were corrected in 2009 with the $145,000 that had been appropriated and voters were asked to raise another $77,000 in 2010 to finish the roof and to insulate and paint the building.

In town elections last March, voters approved spending $60,000 "for the purpose of obtaining a professional evaluation of the conditions of the following Town Buildings: Dockside, Public Safety Building, Libby Museum, Highway Garages and the Solid Waste Facility."

The evaluation of each building would "assess building conditions, identify and prioritize issues of concern and list required upgrades and their costs to protect the Town's assets, make them more energy efficient and to develop a long-term Building Facilities Capital Assets Management Plan."

Bergeron was hired to do these evaluations and the Life Safety Code inspections at all five facilities.

The board was provided with Bergeron's analysis of the Public Safety Building on May 19. That report identified a number of structural and building code problems that need to be addressed, and was to be reviewed by the Police and Fire Chiefs and plans and estimates developed to correct the deficiencies. That report highlighted a major structural issue on the fire equipment bays that would be costly to correct and raised the question of whether it would make more sense to build a new fire station rather than do the repairs.

In the meantime Bergeron completed evaluations of Dockside, the Libby Museum and the Solid Waste Facility. An evaluation of the highway garages has also have been completed, but it has not yet been presented to the board of selectmen.

All of the assessments include thorough evaluations of building structure, electrical, heating/air conditioning and plumbing systems, insulation, and building interior and exterior condition, plus an inspection for Life Safety Code compliance. Identified problems are illustrated with photographs marked with arrows indicating items at issue.

Dockside Restaurant

While the building structure and interior of this town-owned restaurant are in good condition, a number of "immediate fix" problems were found in the electrical, plumbing and heating systems, where the systems were not installed according to code and present immediate hazards. The only major systems hazard concerned the attic-installed furnace, which Bergeron recommended not be used. The report lists specific recommendations to improve crawl space ventilation, correct a kitchen exhaust problem, monitor fuel tanks for potential leaks, and properly vent the drainage system.

The Life Safety Code inspection found eight "serious life safety code concerns," ranging from inadequate stair railings to the need to install a sprinkler system before the 2011 season opens.

Libby Museum

This building is used only during warm weather and has no heating or air conditioning systems. No major structural problems were found but the report noted, "from a structural perspective this building would never pass today's standards" due to a lack of shear bracing, undersized structural members and inadequate foundation. Recent installation of a metal roof has helped minimize snow load, but the roof and wall need to be monitored to detect shifts before they become serious. The seasonal septic system needs to be upgraded, along with the plumbing that feeds it, and the electrical system also needs to be upgraded. There are also grading issues outside and the retaining wall at the lake needs to be repaired.

The Life Safety Code issues include providing emergency lighting, installing handrails and guardrails, and providing emergency power for the handicapped chair lift.

It should be noted that in 2012 the natural history museum will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Some of the recommended improvements could be made in connection with that event.

Solid Waste Facility

The main processing building was constructed in 1977 and the separate "Beach Pond Mall" and office was constructed in 1993. While rusted areas need to be treated and painted and some concrete damage repaired, the buildings are in good shape. A number of electrical problems were identified as code violations in both buildings, and these need to be fixed. The heating system used in the main building needs to be ventilated and the support for the waste oil heater in the separate building needs to be reinforced.

Life Safety Code issues include installing/repairing emergency lighting and fully functional exterior lighting for employee safety. Handrails need to be installed on stairs and the propane storage tank needs to be protected from vehicular damage.

As soon as the highway garages report is made available, the results of the evaluation will be reported here.

After the cost of correcting problems has been estimated, the next step is to decide what corrections should be done within the normal operating budgets of these facilities and what needs to be funded through a warrant article or articles. Making these decisions and developing a timetable for accomplishing them is part of the developing a Building Facilities Capital Assets Management Plan.

"The plan has to include regular maintenance," Ford stressed, noting that building maintenance had not been done regularly in the past.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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