Decision on Westover building coming in next several weeks
STAMFORD — A decision about the fate of the Westover Magnet Elementary School building is coming in the next several weeks.
Mike Handler, member of the city Mold Task Force, has said a final determination about the building, which is plagued with water intrusion and mold problems and was closed earlier this school year, will be made in the next six to eight weeks as geo-tech and architecture firms analyze information on the school.
Handler said a geo-tech firm is in the building now, gathering information on what’s causing water intrusion. In turn, an architecture firm hired by the district will analyze that information and come up with ideas about what to do with the structure.
“The biggest delta for the future of Westover has to do with the foundation slab and the water intrusion that’s coming in from the ground water,” Handler told a recent meeting of the Board of Representatives Education Committee.
Officials who have visited the school have mentioned seeing pools of water coming up from the ground on tile floors throughout the building.
Handler said firms that have done on-site inspections and the city’s Engineering Department believe the intrusion can be solved, so the Mold Task Force is tentatively planning on a potential renovation of the school on the same site.
“We haven’t invested big dollars on the reconstruction of the building yet,” Handler said. “It’s mostly design and engineering work. We’re operating like we’re going to save the building in the same location.”
But members of the Education Committee expressed concern over the idea of keeping the school at its current spot.
“We’re still thinking the location is saturated with water,” said member Jeffrey Stella. “I think that’s going to be an ongoing problem regardless of the money we dump into it. Are we going to come back with the same problem 10 years from now?”
Handler said the task force is working with the same architect, KG +D, that is looking into problems at Coleytown Middle School in Westport. Coleytown was also closed earlier this year due to mold.
He added a final decision about the school will be shared in the coming weeks as the task force gets information. The same will be done for other schools across the district struggling with mold.
“We’re making significant decisions with the facts,” Handler said. “We’re not wasting money on short term solutions. This is an ongoing, evolving issue. The hardest part is we’re working on schools that are occupied. Westover has been the easiest project because we have an empty space.”
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