Roof funding approved at town meeting

  • The Shea Theater on Avenue A in Turners Falls. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

  • The Montague Town Hall in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff writer
Published: 2/21/2019 6:38:03 AM

MONTAGUE — The Shea Theater and Town Hall annex roof replacements will be bid together to start construction this summer now that funding has been approved.

The projects were taken up at special town meeting this week so the jobs could happen during the coming construction season, according to Town Administrator Steve Ellis.

The Shea roof request was for an additional $47,975 for the removal of all roofing ballast and existing roofing and insulation, to make way for installation of insulation on the upper roof deck as well as a new membrane and other repairs to get a 20-year warranty, according to Ellis.

The total cost of the project is $96,975, including a 25 percent construction contingency, which the Capital Improvement Committee views as necessary because of the complexity of the project, according to Ellis.

The project will also include an inspection of the lower roof and addressing any issues that may be identified there.

Because the Shea is town-owned building, it is the town’s responsibility to maintain its basic structure, including the roof. Over the course of about four years, the town has been working to repair both the upper and lower level of the Shea’s roof.

Among those who spoke in support of the project, Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, president of the Board of the Shea, advocated for the repair to the building his nonprofit uses to bring arts and entertainment programs to Turners Falls.

“This is something our board has been looking forward to since we took over and before we put in our application to be a nonprofit,” Belmonte said. “Know that the building is still leaking. When there are events there and it is raining, it is raining inside. It is coming down the walls ... Without doing this correctly we don’t know what damage might happen to the equipment we purchased.”

In 2015, an initial appropriation of $20,000 was granted in Town Meeting for the lower roof of the Shea, a smaller section of the roof line. The project was to re-seal its rubber membrane. The project was completed at same times as installation of HVAC ducts in October of 2017. The HVAC work was supported through Green Communities funding, according to Ellis.

In the same year, as part of the estimates for the lower roof, the town also received a quote for re-sealing the upper roof. Ellis said at the time officials thought it would yield a 10-year solution for the larger roof. It was believed at the time that both roofs could be re-sealed at the same time for no more than $27,500.

When formal bidding was done in October of 2017, the quotes for the upper roof came back much higher than the original estimate of $43,800 to $52,900. 

In May 2018, after an appropriation of $49,000 was approved by the town to re-seal the roof, contractors expressed concerns about the project and the ability to warranty the work. A month later, the manufacturer said it couldn’t warrantee the re-sealing job due to uncertainty about the membrane and its structure, according to Ellis. At that point, the Capital Improvements Committee requested a roof estimate for the upper roof to provide a better understanding of the potential repairs needed and its cost.

“The vendor, Northeast Roof Consultants, recommended against re-sealing and presented expected costs of partial or full replacement,” Ellis said. “Total replacement was described as the most cost-effective and beneficial option and this approach was affirmed by the Montague CIC.” 

Town Hall annex roof

The second appropriation of $165,000, which includes a 15 percent contingency, is to repair or replace the Town Hall and Town Hall annex roofs.

The Town Hall annex roof is where the DPW grounds crew and equipment is currently housed, along with several garage bays used for cold storage.

Town Hall and its annex have three areas of flat roofing, all of which are on the first-floor level. 

According to Ellis, the annex and equipment room roofs have completely failed.

“These roofs have completely failed,” Ellis said. “From the standpoint failure these are among the most damaged assets we have in the town right now. Seeing the need to deal with that particularly because the air conditioning condenser is sitting over an equipment room that has most of the furnace and other systems for town hall.”

The equipment room roof has not leaked yet, but infiltration is viewed as an imminent threat. There are issues with different elements of the annex roof, causing significant leaks.

“The project will include removal of all roofing ballast and existing roof and insulation down to its wooden deck. The new roof will feature a new membrane, flashing and insulation, including the area over what is currently cold storage, allowing flexibility in the re-use of this space when the DPW moves to its new headquarters in summer 2020,” according to Ellis.

The project will also include installation of walkway pads on areas of the rear entrance roof that are susceptible to falling ice and snow.

A 20-year warranty is expected, with the roof likely to outlive that warranty with proper maintenance.

“If approved, we will likely bid the (Shea Theater and Town Hall annex) projects together, which the roof consultant thought may result in a 10 percent total discount potentially,” Ellis said. “Because of reduced mobilization costs if the projects are staged one after the other. The techniques and the specifications are going to be extremely similar.”


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