New roofing on meeting agenda 

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

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

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2019 10:33:20 PM

TURNERS FALLS – In six days, voters will decide whether to replace the Shea Theater upper roof and the Town Hall annex roof as well as adopt new zoning bylaws.

Those topics are coming up at the Special Town Meeting on Feb. 19.

The Shea request is 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 Town Administrator Steve 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.

“This is an old building. It’s kind of complicated. We don’t know everything that’s under it. It has roof drains that could have issues, that have had issues in the past,” Ellis said. “We don’t want to find ourselves in the position where we have to wait for additional funding when we are half way into the project.”

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

In a joint meeting of the Finance Committee and the Selectboard, Ellis told the board why the appropriation is coming before the town in a Special Town Meeting.

“This request reflects a shift from an understanding that we could simply reseal/repair the upper roof to a better grounded understanding, informed by professional assessment, that replacement is the most viable and efficient option,” Ellis said. “Through this project, we hope to settle the matter of the Shea’s roof for many years to come and to dramatically enhance the building’s energy efficiency through insulation that meets modern energy code.”

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. 

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 while making an on-site inspection. A month later, the manufacturer deemed the re-sealing un-warranteeable 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

Another appropriation is being requested for the replacement of the Town Hall annex roof where the DPW grounds crew and equipment is 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 at the first floor level. 

The request is for an appropriation of $165,000, which includes a 15 percent contingency, for repairing or replacing the Town Hall and Town Hall annex roofs.

According to Ellis, the annex and equipment room roofs were noted to be “in generally poor condition and in need of short term removal and replacement.”

There are issues with different elements of the annex roof, causing significant leaks.

“We’ve seen water get in – there’s no damage yet, but it is problematic,” Ellis said.

The equipment room roof has not leaked yet, but infiltration is viewed as an imminent threat.

“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 anticipated, 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.”

Zoning bylaws and map amendment

The last article on the warrant requests the voters adopt updated zoning bylaws.

For the past two years, the Planning Board throught the Town Planner, reviewed the zoning bylaws and proposed possible revisions, which the town will vote on.

“Zoning bylaws regulate the size of new building lots, the types of land uses and dictates how much space is required between buildings and property lines. It also regulates things like parking spaces and signage,” Town Planner Walter Ramsey said.

The aim of updating bylaws include protecting farmland, allowing diversification of the residential neighborhoods and others aligning with comprehensive plans made by the town. Updates from state laws and other amendments that reduce redundancies are also included.

Changes include removing single-use zones for churches and schools, unrestricted zones and easing restrictions on two-family and multi-family dwellings.

The Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area will be rezoned from industrial to agriculture-forestry, reflecting that the Plains are permanently protected from development, Ramsey said, adding, “Rezoning in existing residential areas served by municipal water and sewer (will be rezoned) from agriculture-forestry to residential.”

“We want the bylaws to be user-friendly,” Ramsey said. “So anyone can be able to pick it up and understand it.”

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