Pittsfield Looks For Answers to City Hall Basement Flooding

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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An area in front of city hall was dug up this week to assess the foundation issues.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Architects are trying to figure out how to stop the flooding in the basement of City Hall.
 
Workers under contract with Barry Architects dug up the area at the building's corner near the intersection of Fenn and Allen streets to get a close look at the issues surrounding the flooding.
 
The basement floods often and with recent storms, did so again. 
 
"They are just trying to diagnose the problem," Director of Administrative Services Julia Sabourin said on Friday. "This is the planning phase."
 
The City Council approved the capital budget, which includes $100,000 for foundation repairs in the front of the building. Sabourin said Barry Architects is now looking at the flooding issues to determine a quote for the repairs. 
 
"They will be digging up all of the area in front of City Hall," Sabourin said. 
 
The basement's flooding issues aren't new. Sandbags are permanently kept down there to stop water and nearly all of the documents stored there are placed on pallets to raise them off the ground.
 
However, with recent heavy rains, some documents from the 1980s and 1990s were damaged. The city had to receive state permission to destroy some of the Health Department records, but mostly the documents that were damaged didn't need any extra permission to be destroyed.
 
"Everything is pretty much on pallets at this point," Sabourin said. "All of the areas that normally flood, flooded."
 
Any damage caused by that flooding will be covered by insurance, she said.
 
The city has only allocated funds to repair the flooding issues in front of the stairs, but officials say there are other areas that will need to be addressed in the future. 
 
But flooding is not the only issue impacting City Hall and City Councilors have recommended a full assessment is completed. Sabourin said at this point there is no timeline for actual repairs to the foundation. 
 
The corner dug up this week is also in the same area where workers dug up and ran cables from City Hall to 100 North St. when the inspections departments were moved. Sabourin said part of the work being done this week is to determine if that installation had any additional impact on the flooding.
 
The Vermont marble building on Allen Street was constructed as a post office in 1911, with several additions over the ensuing years including a two-story section on the south side in the 1930s. Originally built for $115,000, it housed the Pittsfield Post Office and other federal offices until the U.S. Postal Service swapped it for land the city owned on East Street in the 1960s. 
 

Tags: city hall,   flooding,   

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