Sunday, February 8


People of Egremont
It's time to do our legislative duty again. We have a Special town meeting called for on Monday March 2, 2015 at 7:00pm in the Undermountain Elementary School cafeteria. There are three articles on the warrant but because article three is by far the most important and involves spending $8,000,000.00 I think we should focus on that. This issue highlights the importance of every citizen showing up at the town meetings. I'm asking everyone who can come out to be there otherwise we will be stuck with an eight million dollar debacle. We the people have the power and responsibility to tell the town officials what money to spend and how to spend it. I am adamantly opposed to the repair plan that this school committee, SC, has proposed. I think this proposal is too much buck for very little bang. We're talking about repairing a roof and replacing a furnace for eight million dollars. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  This is the kind of misguided plan that is hatched by a small group of people isolated in a bubble.
While I am opposed to the 8 million dollar roof and boiler "repair"; I am not opposed to fixing the problems that exist at the School. The fact is that the roof leaks and the furnaces have been neglected for years. These issues do need to be addressed and they will be, but there are more economical solutions outside of the bubble speak that the SC is trying to shove down our throat. I have to ask why the SC never budgeted for funds to replace the boiler when it first broke. Did they ask for funds when the second boiler started to leak? These simple maintenance issues could have been resolved as they came up if the SC acted properly; and they can still be addressed in a more prudent manner than is being proposed by the SC. The question is how and how much?
I recall a story about a firehouse door in a local town that was hard to open and made a wretched noise when it did. Now we can't have the firemen unable to get into or out of the firehouse can we? The finance committee was debating the issue because the estimates were in the thousands of dollars to replace the door. Then one elderly member asked if he could take a look before they decide. This gentleman looked at the door, squirted some oil on the hinges and went back to the committee and reported that the door was fixed. After ten years and a few coats of paint that door is still in service. We don't need to spend 8 million dollars to fix the roof and furnace!
Let’s talk furnaces. If the SC budgeted to repair and maintain the boilers as needed this heating system would still be in good working order. Now this SC wants us to believe that if we don't spend two million dollars on the heating system the children will freeze to death with water dripping on their heads. This heating system is simple; it’s a water heater (boiler), pipes and radiators to disperse the heat and pumps to circulate the hot water through the pipes. I looked online to see what it would cost to replace the existing boilers with compatible units. Each of the boilers would cost about $18k. Multiply this by 3 and were at 54 thousand dollars. Does this SC expect us to believe that it costs over $1.9 million to install 54 thousand dollars worth of equipment? Even if we had to replace all of the circulating pumps the material cost would barely reach $100,000.00. This is a simple maintenance issue and the SC is trying to kill a fly with an elephant gun.
Now let’s talk about the roof. The roof is a PVC membrane roof system manufactured by Sika-Sarnafil of Switzerland and was installed by Titan Roofing Inc. of Springfield Ma. According to the manufacturer this roof membrane was designed to last over 40 years and Sarnafil roofs installed in the 60s are still effective after more than 40 years in a brutal Swiss climate. {Watch this Sarnafil roof video} Choosing this roof in 1992 made a lot of sense because it promised to be cheaper and easier to maintain over the years. This has proven to be the case as there has been little maintenance cost since its installation. The SC cites the report that claims to have found two out of seven test holes to be moist. I'm sure the seven sites tested were presumed to be leak sources. I think it's a bit of an overreaction to replace an entire 187,000 square foot roof at a cost of over 5 million dollars because of two leaks. I've made a business out of saving roofs rather than replacing them; and I have many satisfied customers to prove it. This roof can be repaired it doesn't need to be replaced. To repair all of the small leaks may cost 10 to 25 thousand dollars, which is a far cry from over 5 million. The SC claims that this project will earn 40 to 50 thousand dollars per year selling energy credits. At this rate it will take over 100 years to see a return on the investment. Do the math; this roof proposal just doesn't make economic sense.
I don't blame the SC for these bloated costs, I blame the state. I think that the SC is playing into the hands of the state grant system. For the sake of receiving "state grants" the district is proposing that we spend nearly 5 million dollars to receive 3 million in grants when we could fix the problems for under a million. Just because money is available doesn't mean we have to waste it; especially if we have to spend more than it would cost without the grants. Personally I believe that the combined projects should cost the district under a million dollars and that's without any grants at all. If a project costs 800% more than it should in order to receive grant money then we are not saving money. I know roofs and am certain that I could deal with the roof problems for less than what the district is proposing. I think the towns should reject this plan and go forward without seeking grant monies.
Take a look at the state grant system. The state grant system is ripe for corruption and cronyism. The SC has already spent over $100k just for two feasibility studies. We could have fixed the furnaces with that money. Since there are only a few engineering firms on the state list those firms divvy up all the grant application business amongst themselves. When a finance committee member asked if the town could hire an independent engineer firm to give us an objective look he was told by another member that we needn't use an independent firm as they may not be on the "state list". He said we already have a study done by one of the firms on the list and was confident that the firm was trustworthy. Forgive me for being suspicious but these firms depend on the grant system. We've already wasted over $100,000.00 for feasibility studies, we don't have to throw good money after bad by spending 8 million dollars on simple repairs and maintenance.


  1. Do you have an opinion on the skylights?

  2. The skylights are usually fixed with the roof repairs. It's an easy fix if the intention is to seal the skylights rather than replace them.

  3. The SBRSD Roof/Boiler Project at Mt. Everett/Undermountain School 1/21/15 Handout

    Page 4: “Skylights are also leaking and need replacement.”

  4. The skylights may leak but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to be replaced. Most skylights leak at the roof not in the skylight and can be fixed with the roof leaks. Regardless it's ridiculous to spend 5 million to fix a few leaks whether they're on the roof or in the skylight.

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  7. Kevin is right unless the skylights are cracked for some unknown reason such as vandalisim they should just need to be resealed with roof repairs!!