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The Yankee Express

Webster Town Hall is Floating Away

By Janet Stoica

Ironically, the Conservation and Planning offices at the Webster Town Hall have been flooding for years during any type of rain or snow-melting event. These offices are located on the east side of the grand building’s entryway. Why this problem has never been addressed is a mystery. As a student at the former Bartlett High School (now senior housing) in the 1970’s I remember the pond that always formed at that side of the building facing the town library. I recall one storm-water drain located in the corner area of this proud building that never could do its job. 
Now that our weather patterns have changed and become rainier, this problem will become more of a nightmare not only for our devoted town employees who must vacate their offices when it rains but also for us, the town taxpayers who must look for a solution before the building’s strength is totally ruined by the constant dampness not to mention the remedial cost of mold removal that usually runs into the tens of thousands of dollars. 
If there’s a hole in the roof, fix it, right? If there’s a flood in your cellar, get a sump pump or waterproof the cellar walls, yes?  Apparently, our former Town Administrator had the foresight to have an evaluation done on our illustrious Town Hall’s needs but the report was not publicized before his departure. Maybe a good review of that report is now in order.
During the last rainstorm, the basement flooding was so severe that not only were vacuum pumps necessary but the rainwater had to be carted away in barrels. Yes, that’s right…in barrels. That one outside drain will never be adequate to carry away future water disasters. Never. Once mold takes hold there’s no stopping it. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mold growing on wet drywall begins in 24-48 hours of water intrusion. Mold spores then colonize rapidly within a few weeks. By the time mold is noticeable to the naked eye, 21 days may have passed and it has already spread its spores to other areas. Mold spores never die and they never “dry up.”  Mold spores cause asthma, allergies and other respiratory illnesses.
If anything, for safety’s sake and for the town’s liability, this horrific working condition must be addressed and it should be addressed immediately. Let’s preserve our stately town building.  
“We need to get serious about capital improvements to our Town Hall,” said Rick LaFond, Town Administrator, “this building does need major renovations to preserve its beauty and dignified appearance.”