After speaking at this week’s Orange Board of Education meeting, resident Michael Richetelli sent in this letter to the editor regarding his thoughts about the Peck Place School situation:
To The Editor:
The numbers are in; it will cost $2 Million to repair the damage done to Peck Place School from the pipe break and resulting flood on Monday, January 6th. The Board of Education members acted swiftly and responsibly by relocating the Peck students to the Yale West Campus in the aftermath of this disaster. As a father of a child in Peck Place, I have seen firsthand how this event has negatively impacted the educational process of our children.
The town recently approved spending $2 million to restore Peck Place, with the majority of the work awarded with no-bid contracts. It is critical to ensure that this work is done quickly and properly for the safety of our children. However, BOE Business Manager Kevin McNabola has left the district for another position; Kevin has been integral in coordinating the planned restoration of Peck. I have asked the BOE to hire a construction manager to oversee this project, as we need the expertise of a professional to manage the different tradesmen, ensure the project meets identified time constraints, and ensure fiscal responsibility.
It is also appropriate to investigate what protocols and precautions were taken to prevent this event. The taxpayers deserve accountability in determining if this could’ve been prevented and to ensure that safeguards are implemented for the future; they also deserve answers to the many unanswered questions.
The facilities manager for the BOE has stated on the record that he was concerned about freezing temperatures going into the weekend and had the building checked on Sunday, Jan. 5th. What kind of inspection was done? Working in the Property Management field, I was trained that there is only one critical task when checking a building for frozen pipes- run the water! If this safeguard was taken, this situation may have been averted.
It also came to light that an alarm was sounded after the pipe broke. Was this alarm responded to properly? Could the damage at Peck Place School have been prevented or mitigated? I’ve advocated for the BOE to form a bipartisan committee to include residents with expertise in building management and maintenance to review this matter and make recommendations to the BOE. I truly hope that they will follow through on this important retrospection due diligence.