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Feb 062014
 

Turkey Hill SchoolSome residents have contacted me about a disturbing story they read about the condition of Turkey Hill School, worried that it is on the verge of falling down.

The “story” it turns out, was an opinion piece, written by a parent who attended a Board of Ed Building and Grounds Committee meeting that contained many interesting facts about his child’s  elementary school (Peck Place) but also included his interpretation of a discussion regarding a problem discovered at Turkey Hill School.

I did not attend the committee meeting, but this is what I have come up with after inquiring about the problem and the seriousness of the situation.

On the Friday before last (Jan. 24) a custodian at Turkey Hill School noticed a strange gap between a window and the wall in the last classroom in the front of the building on the far right.

He immediately reported it, and Superintendent Lynn McMullin and Facilities Director Mike Luzzi called town building official Fred Trotta, who, in turn asked a structural engineer for some advice.

Everything was moved out of the room, and the children were relocated to the Spanish Room as a precautionary measure until school officials get some solid answers.

In the Blog it stated that “engineers (plural) looked at the problem and estimated that 50% of all classrooms may be at risk.”

Those who attended the meeting said there was only one (1) who looked at the one (1) room. 

The blogger also stated that the state code requires school building walls to withstand 110 mph winds — this is true, but, one school official said your children would not be in school in the middle of a hurricane where 110 mph winds may be present.

The blogger wrote, “Turkey Hill is not considered safe to occupy if those winds exceed 50mph.” Not sure where he got this information, but that statement is what has parents asking if the school is falling down.

Anyone who did not see the blog or read the entire thing may be concerned about the safety of the flat-roof school with the weight of the heavy snow from the recent storm.

The blog and Supt. Lynn McMullin both state that there is no issue with the roof.

On Monday, Feb. 10, the Board of Education will take action and make a motion to recommend (to the Board of Selectmen) retaining a structural engineer to determine the severity and best course of action for this situation at Turkey Hill. This could cost upwards of $7,500.

The Superintendent did not wish to make any official comment until  after a full analysis had been done.

The Board of Ed meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. 

  • E. Thorndike

    I was the parent who attended the meeting of the building
    and grounds committee. The post I wrote
    for Orange.patch.com was based on notes I took from the meeting. You are correct that there was only one
    engineer at the meeting. I may have
    falsely assumed other people from his firm had looked at the building. That doesn’t make what I reported any less
    true with respect to the condition of Turkey Hill School. He examined the wall in question and said it
    was not properly secured and this was a result of poor design. While he has yet to examine the rest of the
    building, he did say that up to 50% of the classrooms have exterior walls similar
    to the one that is failing. They may all
    be fine, they may not. He did state the
    code of 110 mph. One of the members of
    the committee in conversation with the engineer mentioned the building walls
    may not be safe above 50mph. I do not
    remember who said it but I did not make this number up myself. The state of CT has many building codes that
    are in place to keep people safe. I
    think it is completely irresponsible to arbitrarily decide which code is
    necessary and which one is not. While it
    is unlikely children would be in school during a hurricane, our area is not immune
    to high winds, micro bursts and tornados.
    The Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, OK is a tragic example of
    people assuming their school was a safe place to be during an emergency. Finally the $7,500 figure you stated is for
    the engineering firm to survey the building.
    The ultimate cost to repair is not yet known. I don’t
    think everyone should panic, but I also don’t think everyone should
    ignore what may be a very serious problem.

    • orangectlive

      dunno if this will work

  • orangectlive

    This is a response from ED THORNDIKE:
    I am the parent who attended the meeting of the building and grounds committee. The post I wrote was based on notes I took from the meeting.
    Yes, this is my interpretation having attended the meeting. What you have presented is your interpretation, havinG spoken to people who attended the meeting.
    You are correct that there was only one engineer at the meeting. I may have falsely assumed other people from his firm had looked at the building. Whether
    it was examined by one (1) or by ten (10), doesn’t make what I reported any
    less true with respect to the condition of Turkey Hill School.
    He examined the wall in question and said it was not properly secured and this was a result of poor design. While he has yet to examine the rest of the building, he did say based upon preliminary findings up to 50% of the classrooms have exterior walls with construction similar to the one that is failing. They may all be fine, they may not.
    He did state the code of 110 mph. One of the members of the committee in conversation with the engineer mentioned the building walls may not be safe above 50mph. I do not remember who said it but I did not make this number up myself.
    The state of CT has many building codes that are in place to keep people safe. I think it is completely irresponsible to arbitrarily decide which code is necessary and which one is not. (This was originally posted as your view prior to your edit where you now attribute this point to an unnamed official)
    While it is unlikely children would be in school during a hurricane, our area is not immune to high winds, micro bursts and tornados. The Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, OK is a tragic example of people assuming their school was a safe place to be during an emergency.
    Finally the $7,500 figure you stated is for the engineering firm to survey the building.
    The ultimate cost to repair is not yet known. I do not think everyone should panic, but I also don’t think everyone should ignore what may be a very serious problem.

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