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New Member Sought for School Comm.; Select Board Discusses Asbestos Abatement

LONGMEADOW, MA – The town continues to seek applicants to interview for an open seat on the School Committee.

The applications are needed due to the recent departure of Jessica Hutchins, who tendered her resignation on June 5, 2018, a week before the Annual Town Election. The resignation was effective June 15.

The Select Board and School Committee will jointly select an applicant to fill the seat until the next Annual Town Election in June 2019. Any resident interested in serving on the School Committee is required to submit an application at the Select Board’s Office at Town Hall by Aug. 17. The Select Board and the School Committee have scheduled a joint meeting for Aug. 27 at Longmeadow High School at which applicants would be interviewed.

ASBESTOS ABATEMENT

The Select Board also discussed the rising costs of asbestos abatement at the site upon which the new Department of Public Works facility is to be built.

On July 16, the Select Board approved a change order of $280,500 in order to fund the process of removing materials containing asbestos that were identified around the property, namely materials previously believed to be remnants of tennis courts from the Grande Meadows Tennis Club.

The abatement funding was taken from the project’s contingency budget of $900,000. “We have no way of knowing how the materials became scattered around the building, but it was our obligation to dispose of the material in an environmentally responsive and legally required manner,” Select Board Chair Mark Gold said, also noting the cleanup was done on time and on budget. However, after this work was completed, more asbestos-containing materials, believed to be the same that prompted the initial abatement work, was discovered under the parking lot of the facility when workers began removing the pavement to allow for the installation of underground utilities.

“This material appears to have been spread around and buried under the asphalt surface,” Gold said. Depending on their depth, the materials could be anywhere between 3,500 and 7,000 cubic yards – “indeed a substantial quantity,” Gold commented.

Upon discovery of the asbestos, contractors were required to halt work and all equipment involved had to be decontaminated, closing down the work site.

Gold stressed that no residents were in danger. In an emergency session, the Select Board met on Aug. 1 to approve the gathering and eventual removal of the material. The cost of gathering the asbestos-containing materials is not to exceed $168,709, which would come from the contingency fund. However, the actual disposal of the asbestos could result in a price tag ranging from “several hundred thousand dollars to as much as $2 million in a worst-case scenario,” Gold said.

“From a cost perspective, even should the worst-case scenario play out for disposal of this material, the cost of this project is not expected – and I’ll repeat that – not expected to exceed the $22 million authorized by the town,” he said. “Cost control is an important consideration and falls behind only our pledge to provide health and safety and environmental standards are met for everybody involved.”

Because there is no statute of limitations on improper disposal of hazardous materials, if it is determined that that was the cause of the complications the town is currently experiencing with the site, the town will consider attempting through legal means to recuperate excess monies spent to remove the material.

– By Chris Maza
PressReleases@TheLongmeadowNews.com