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North Adams Mayor Updates Council on Public Safety Roof Fiasco
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:42AM / Thursday, January 16, 2020
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Workers return to seal up the roof of the public safety building two days before Christmas 2019.

The public safety building has been dealing with leaks for years. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is in discussions with its attorney after the company hired to fix the roof on the public safety building walked off the job for more than month. 
"The contractor stopped work and did not pick up the work for 34 days. Despite calls and concerns raised by us and our architects," Administrative Officer Michael Canales said. "They haven't really given a reason." 
Blue tarps had become a permanent part of the decor at the public safety building over the years. The aged structure's leaky roof has posed a danger to first responders and their very expensive equipment. 
And when the roofing company walked off the job, the leaks continued. 
"Our attorney is aware of this issue so if we're not able to give a full and complete answer, just understand we're trying to give you what we can at this time," Mayor Thomas Bernard told the City Council in his update on Tuesday.
The council approved a $351,000 borrowing more than a year ago to put a new roof on the deteriorating 63-year-old structure on American Legion Drive. The work was delayed when the city had to go before the Architectural Access Board to get a waiver because it is under federal order to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act — which officials have acknowledged means a new building. 
The order to finally proceed on the project was in early August after the contract was awarded. 
"The contractor was able to mobilize and began construction on Sept. 30, 2019. The contractor originally projected approximately a four- to five-week project to substantial completion. Work proceeded until Oct. 24, 2019," Canales said. "We then ran into an issue and no site work was performed on the site for 34 days."
Talks with the contractor on how to get back on schedule occurred on Dec. 11 but on Jan. 6, 2020, the city issued a notice of default. 
"On Jan. 10, we followed up with a conference call between the city of North Adam's legal counsel, the contractor and their bond company," Canales said. That was followed up with a meeting with Firestone, which manufactures the roof membrane, to get an inspection and identify any deficiencies that could affect the roof's 20-year warranty and the city's rights.
"The issues that we've come across is we have had some water damage, as I'm sure some councilors and individuals in the community have heard," he said. "The contractor has brought in a vendor that specializes in this to inspect the damage and is verbally committed to replacing the cabinets, Sheetrock, the insulation in the data room plus make any repairs in the radio room, where we have water leakage."
Core samples will also be taken from the roof to ensure that water-saturated areas are replaced (Canales said replacement would be done by a local company). Thermal imaging will be done to identify heat loss from damaged insulation. 
"Thermal imaging will give us a great look at what is happening with the roof and make sure that we have a roof that is working properly," Canales said. "Our priorities right now are to establish a watertight seal for the remainder of the winter season."
In response to questions, he said the original contractor will be completing the work but that notifying the bond company of default will have a deleterious effect the firm's ability to get other work. 
The mayor and Canales said the city should not have to bear any further cost because the contractor is in default. Bernard to decline further discussion on costs or legal fees because it will be part of the negotiations with the attorneys. 
Canales affirmed that the roofer was certified by the state's Division of Capital Asset Management, as required by law, and that there were no "red flags" in checking qualifications for what was expected to be an quick and easy project. Bradley Architects of Pittsfield was doing several site visits a week; when it became apparent there were problems, local contractor Foster Lewis was assigned as clerk of the works and began daily reviews. 
"I want to be I want to be really clear that Mike Canales has been the sober voice of reason in this project and has reined in my extreme frustration," the mayor said. "So the questions you're asking, the frustrations that you're bringing to the table are things that I have been working through from the time that this started to go off the rails."
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