City seeks grant to fix school roofs
NORTHAMPTON — A $1.1 million roof-replacement project for Leeds and R.K. Finn Ryan Road elementary schools, which has been on the back burner for several years, may move its way up the priority list thanks to a special funding program offered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
The City Council and School Committee each voted this week to allow the superintendent to apply for a grant through the authority’s Accelerated Repair Program that primarily funds the repair or replacement of roofs, windows and boilers at schools.
If selected to participate in the program in late March, the city would be eligible for reimbursement of 56 percent of the costs for the work, or about $600,000, said David Pomerantz, director of Central Services.
The roofs at both schools are nearing the end of their lifespan and are prime for replacement, Pomerantz said. Ryan Road’s roof dates to 1989, while the roof at Leeds was installed in 1991.
“They need to be done and we now have an opportunity to get on that invitation list,” Pomerantz said.
Both projects have been on the city’s capital improvement plan for the last five years, although the council approved a $150,000 project this fiscal year to start roof repairs at Ryan Road.
In the last several years, roof maintenance to fix leaks to the 47,000-square-foot roof at Ryan Road and the 27,000-square-foot roof at Leeds have cost the city several thousand dollars a year, though Pomerantz said there have been no major repairs required at either school.
If awarded funding, the project must be complete within 18 months. Pomerantz said the roof repairs to the schools would likely take place this fall. If the city does not receive funding from the state, it would continue with the smaller project at Ryan Road School this spring and both projects would remain on the city’s capital wish-list for possible funding next fiscal year.
The School Building Authority’s Accelerated Repair Program, now in its third year, has awarded some $147 million to 50 school districts. The authority also has a green building program that has doled out $366.6 million to 96 districts.