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Vote expected on City Hall repair bond

Date: 11/4/2011

Nov. 2, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD — The Westfield City Council is expected to vote at its next meeting on a bonding request for $3.4 million to begin emergency roof repairs to the 119-year old building on Court Street that houses City Hall.

This will be the second reading of the bond request, which was referred by the council to the Legislative and Ordinance Committee during its Oct. 20 meeting.

“I was just there today, and there was water coming in,” At-Large City Councilor Gerald Tracy told Reminder Publications last Thursday. “It’s kind of disgraceful when you walk in and you see all the plaster falling down.”

Tracy was very vocal about the need for emergency repairs to City Hall during the October council meeting, urging his fellow councilors to approve the bonding request as quickly as possible so that roof repairs on the storage vault section of the building, which has a flat, rubber membrane roof, could begin before a drop in temperature made work impossible.

“We know that the tower that holds all the important information for the City Council, the Engineering Department and other city records [is] the one that is being affected the most,” Tracy noted, adding that the design combination of the main building’s roof and the storage vault, which was added to the building about 30 years ago, creates a situation where rain, snow and ice consistently dump on the flat rubber roof during the colder months.

Donna Roy, assistant City Clerk, confirmed for Reminder Publications that city records kept in the third floor storage vault are presently covered with plastic to prevent damage from water that seeps in “from time to time.”

According to information contained in a Feasibility Study of Nine City Locations, prepared for Mayor Daniel Knapik by Bargmann Hendrie & Archetype, Inc of Boston in November 2010, the building that houses City Hall was constructed in 1892 of water-washed redstone with brownstone trim and a slate roof to serve as a State Normal School for the training of public school teachers. In 1939, it became the Westfield State Teacher’s College. In 1956, the college, now known as Westfield Sate University, relocated to Western Avenue, and the city acquired the building. The building underwent significant renovations in 1958 and again in 1977.

The report, which is available on the city’s website,, citeed the need for multiple repairs and upgrades to the building, including the roof, masonry and window repairs that are part of the bond under consideration.

Tracy noted that “every one of the rooms in that building are in shabby condition, except for the City Council Chambers,” which he said recently underwent emergency repairs, including the addition of a third support post.

Tammy Tefft, director of purchasing for the city of Westfield, said the engineering firm Dale Associates of Boston, which specializes in historic buildings, is already “putting together a scope of work on what emergency repairs need to be done [to City Hall] right away.”

She said once the City Council approves the bonding request, she will apply to the state’s Division of Capital Management (DCAM) for a waiver so that repairs to the two roofs most in need of work can begin as quickly as possible.

“I’m hoping to apply for the waiver nest week,” Tefft said. “I just want to have [the] costs that we are expecting the repairs to be so DCAM can see that.”

She added that the city would approach construction firms it has worked with that “we know can do the job and do it in our time frame.”

She said for the rubber membrane roof, that means before the temperature consistently drops below 40 degrees.

After the emergency repairs are approved, Tefft said Dale Associates “will begin working on designs for the rest of the repairs to City Hall.”

She is hoping that the repairs will be ready to go out to bid early nest year “so we can get in on the first spring construction.”

Tefft added that the engineering firm has estimated it would take one full year to complete repairs to City Hall.

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