State Advances Haverhill’s Moody School Roof Project, But Scuttles Other Repairs at Mayor’s Request

(WHAV News file photograph.)

At least one Haverhill School Committee member was left wondering last Thursday why the Massachusetts School Building Authority did an about face and rejected two out of three state-paid repairs to the William Henry Moody School.

On Monday, however, MSBA spokeswoman Maria Puopolo told WHAV windows/doors and boiler replacement at the pre-school were omitted in October after consultation with Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

“I can confirm part of the MSBA’s due diligence is to call the eligible applicant for financial readiness. And, in speaking with the eligible applicant, the mayor conveyed reservations on the local side regarding the funding,” she said.

That was not the answer School Committee member Gail M. Sullivan received last week when she pointedly asked Fiorentini why the windows request was denied when it had been approved initially by the state. She noted teachers have complained the windows are unsafe.

“We had people telling us that the windows weren’t stable, that they crash down, that they’re so heavy that staff members can’t raise them,” she said.

Fiorentini told WHAV Monday he regrets dodging Sullivan’s question and should have consulted with her and Committee member Richard J. Rosa. He explained spending too much on the school “would probably trigger having to re-do the entire building, spend millions of dollars on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements.” He explained one costly item might be the installation of a new elevator even though the building isn’t fully used now.

The mayor said the windows are 35 years old and can likely be repaired. He told the School Committee he spoke with Facilities Director Stephen D. Dorrance about bringing in a window repair company to see if the windows can be repaired.

As early as Oct. 27, state Building Authority members voted to invite Haverhill into the Accelerated Repair Program to conduct a schematic design study “for a potential partial roof replacement project” at Moody.

Rosa, who placed the matter on the agenda, said while it was disappointing all of the work was not approved, the roof replacement portion will provide a substantial savings for taxpayers.

“The reimbursement rate is 76% and their contribution will save our taxpayers three or four hundred thousand dollars, so that’s good news for Haverhill,” he said.

In May of this year, Dorrance told the committee the 107-year-old building needed work on its roof, windows and heating system to avoid problems in the future. As a result, the committee voted to submit an application to the state seeking financial assistance for the project.

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