Woodland needs a new roof

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Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. -FILE PHOTO
Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. -FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — The roof at Woodland Regional High School is in disarray, 12 years after opening its doors to Beacon Falls and Prospect students.

Shingles are sliding off the roof, there are portions of ridge vents on the roof that are completely gone, some nails have worked their way out and are missing and the nails left in the roof can be pulled out by hand, according to Region 16 Supervisor of Facilities and Maintenance Dave Langdon.

Langdon, who spoke to the Board of Education at its Nov. 6 meeting, added that some of the 5/8-inch-thick plywood used on the roof is split in half. He said he couldn’t find another instance where 5/8-inch-thick plywood split.  

“That’s unheard of, that’s never happened before,” Langdon said.

The issues with the roof are causing water to leak into the school, Langdon said. The worst leaks are occurring in the art wing of the school, which has a roof with a lower slope than the rest of the school, and damage is being done to the metal infrastructure of the classrooms, he said.

Langdon said the board is looking at reroofing the entire roof of the school.

“I’m sick over it. I’ve done a lot of research on this, and there’s no easy way around this,” Langdon said.  

The school was opened in 2001. At the time it was built, Langdon said, the roof cost $863,000. He estimated a new roof will cost about $1 million now.

“We’re disappointed that it’s an expense that is going to have to be dealt with before the anticipated time,” Superintendent of Schools Tim James said in an interview the day following the meeting.

According to Langdon, the issues with the roof don’t stem from the materials used, but rather the installation of the roof.

Greenwood Industries out of Millbury, Mass., was the contractor hired to install the roof and the Torrington-based O&G Industries was the project manager that had oversight over construction of Woodland, according to officials. At the time the school was built no concerns were raised regarding the roof and Woodland received its certificate of occupancy from the Beacon Falls building inspector at the time, according to officials.  

James said officials talked with the board’s legal counsel regarding the options available to the board. However, he said, the statute of limitations on the project has run out and the liability of paying for the roof falls completely on the board.

Board Chair Priscilla Cretella questioned whether the contractors’ insurance would cover any of the costs.

Insurance only covered the building for a year after the doors opened, according to James and Langdon.   

James said officials are double checking whether the district would be eligible for state reimbursement. But, he said, it’s their understanding that when reimbursement is available for roof projects, it is for replacing a roof whose age has reached or exceeded its warranty period, which is typically 20 to 30 years.

Water leaking in Woodland is not a new issue, although it was just brought to the attention of school officials recently.

Langdon, who was hired a couple of years ago, guessed that water has been leaking in the art wing since 2003 or 2004.  

James, who came to the district as an interim superintendent in January 2012, said he was told about the issue in late August, early September of this year. The roof was then inspected by an independent, third-party roofing contractor, James said. Langdon, who told the board he talked with representatives of Greenwood Construction and the shingle manufacturer, then put together a report, which was presented to the board last week.

Members of the board expressed frustration that the roof has been leaking for years, yet no one told them. 

“Instead we wait a decade when it’s too late to do something about it. … I don’t want that practice to continue. I want our staff to have enough confidence in this board that if they see something wrong with our facilities, whether it’s something broken or unsafe or something they just have a bad feeling about, that they should be able to come to this board and not wait a decade,” board member Robert Hiscox said. “We have to go back to the public for a million dollars to fix a roof that we shouldn’t be fixing for another 20 years.”

The board is looking at bonding the money for the roof repairs together with nearly $1.6 million worth of safety improvements for the district’s schools. A referendum on the safety bond is expected to be held in January or February next year.

Reroofing the school wouldn’t occur until the summer when school is out, Langdon said.

James said the district may receive state grant funds to pay for some of the safety improvements. But, if not, he said the board may have to prioritize some of the security items to lower the amount of the bond package before the vote.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” James said.

No formal decision was made as to how to proceed with the overall roof repairs last week. However, the board decided to go ahead with a roughly $13,000 temporary fix to the roof of the art wing after discussing whether to hold off and just do the entire roof at once.

Board member Sheryl Feducia she didn’t want to wait and risk more water damage being done to the school. Board member Nazih Noujaim agreed, saying he would prefer to err on the side of caution.

“I think we have to spend the money and get the band-aid,” board member William Fredericks said.

The temporary fix will include replacing the plywood, putting a weather membrane over the plywood and putting the shingles back on, Langdon said.

The board unanimously approved a motion to waive its bidding policy, not to exceed $14,000, for the temporary repairs so the work can move ahead as quickly as possible. 

Langdon said last week he had two bids and was going to seek a third for the temporary repairs, which can be done during school.  

James said the work is expected to be finished this month.

1 COMMENT

  1. Perhaps we should pay the Million for the new roof in “progress payments” spread over the life expectancy of the roof or its warranty period, “which is typically 20 to 30 years”.

    While the statute of limitations may have passed for this roof, we should certainly address future business with the firms involved. If they are in fact hiding behind the statute of limitations on a roof that should have 8-15 YEARS left on it, Greenwood Industries out of Millbury, Mass., (the contractor hired to install the roof) and Torrington-based O&G Industries (the project manager that had oversight over construction of Woodland) should be precluded from any new work in the town. We don’t need vendors like that.