By SHERIDAN CYR
Town of Southington elected officials are moving forward with a $2.6 million bond ordinance appropriation for costs related to replacement of portions of the Southington high School roof.
On Monday, the Town Council unanimously approved the ordinance referral to the Board of Finance and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Both boards voted unanimously in favor of the project.
The portion of the roof in question is approximately 71,000 square feet, covering the auditorium, athletic office, freshman cafeteria and the tech-ed area. The current roof was designed to last 20 years. The school has gotten 30 years out of it, and regularly performs repairs and patches on several areas.
“We have gotten our money’s worth out of it,” said Pete Romano, director of operations for Southington Public Schools. “There are stained tiles that we continue to touch up and replace, but we’re at a point where we need to protect our building.”
The school district maintains about 800,000 square feet of roof across all schools.
Romano said the high school currently has a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roof, which is different than a tar roof or built up stone roof.
“It’s like a swimming pool liner. When it starts to deteriorate because of the ultraviolet rays, it continues,” Romano said. “We can’t maintain it anymore.”
He added there is potential for damage to occur from the leaks, specifically citing damage to props, lighting and sound equipment in the auditorium.
“As soon as we find a leak, we jump on it, but now we’re just chasing them,” he said.
At the Board of Finance meeting, Town Manager Mark Sciota informed the board prior to their vote that the town anticipates a 53 percent reimbursement rate for the roof.
“Nothing is perfect, and the state can change, but we will get some sort of reimbursement,” Sciota said. BOF vice chair Joseph Labienic noted the project may only cost about $1 million if that’s the case, and he said that would be important to keep in mind while voting.
PZC member Paul Chaplinsky asked if a new roof could potentially be available for solar panels. Romano said it is a possibility but not a commitment at this time.
At the Committee of the Chairs meeting, Board of Education chair Brian Goralski stated all effected boards should be part of the conversation if the discussion for solar panels goes forward.
“If [solar panels] are saving us money, we all need to see this. Let’s let all the players weigh in,” Goralski said. “We didn’t do that last time. Let’s do it better.”
The Town Council scheduled a public hearing for the SHS roof referendum for May 29 at 7 p.m. at the municipal center. With the council’s approval, it will be a referendum question for residents to respond to in the November 2018 elections.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.