City of Rhome to test roof

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, April 14, 2018
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The next step in the possible renovation of Rhome’s old school building is to test the structural security of the roof.

Built in 1929, the building has been vacant since it last held classes in the ’80s. The city discussed demolishing the school to make way for a future municipal complex, but Mayor Michelle Pittman di Credico proposed they renovate the building instead.

di Credico read an engineer’s report on the school at Thursday’s city council meeting. The report said the 11,000-square foot school was “built well,” but parts of the roof are in poor condition and there is localized foundation movement due to water damage.

The structural capacity of the roof’s joists needs to be tested. The original plans for the school should list the load-bearing capacity, but di Credico said no one knows where the plans are. City employees are looking for them in the archives.

The engineer recommended testing the roof by creating two 20-by-20 foot basins out of plastic tarp and concrete blocks and then flooding the tarps with four inches of water to add a load of 20 pounds per square foot to the roof.

di Credico said the estimated cost for replacing the roof is $136,000. The projected cost for demolition is $100,000.

Whether the council decides to renovate or demolish the building, the asbestos removal must be completed. The interior asbestos removal is done, but to remove the asbestos on the roof, the flashing around the outer 3-feet of the roof will have to be removed. Public Works Director Lance Petty told the council there’s no way to protect the interior of the school from weather damage once the water-resistant barrier is removed.

“If you decide you’re going to renovate the school, then you would try to get your bids and proposals out for a brand new roof so when that’s removed the roofing contractor is ready to go put a roof on it to protect it,” Petty said. “If we’re going to keep the school, we’ve got to have a roofer ready to go when we remove [the flashing]. Rain season is here.”

di Credico said the council’s next step was predicated on whether they intended to save the school.

“If you guys are interested in saving it, the public comment I’m getting is that everyone is and I’ve not had anyone say, ‘Yeah, tear it down,'” di Credico said.

The council agreed to let di Credico proceed with finding a firm to test the roof and to hold off on the rest of the asbestos removal.

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