JOHNSTOWN - The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Thursday approved an emergency capital project at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School to correct a basement support- column problem with part of the building. The cost is not to exceed $500,000.
The board met in special session at Johnstown High School to go over the problem involving a "lateral shift" of a column. The board passed four resolutions.
District Director of Facilities and Operations E.J. Maye said Thursday there is no danger to the public at the school, and the district hopes to finish work in the cellar before the next school year starts.
He said the building will have to be jacked up during the work.
District Business Manager Alice Dillenbeck said all four resolutions passed unanimously. They included the main resolution to authorize the emergency project, which the district is seeking state funding for. The board also passed a resolution stating the work is not subject to a review under the state Environmental Quality Review Act.
The other two resolutions were to approve contracts with Bonacci Architects for engineering, and Beebe Construction Services of Utica for construction management and general construction services associated with the emergency repair.
District Superintendent Katherine Sullivan said the problem is actually "in the dirt" involving cellar columns at Pleasant Avenue Elementary School.
In its main resolution passed Thursday, the board stated the column bases "experienced a partial failure" resulting in a lateral shift of a column.
Maye said the problem was noticed in May when people entering the older section of the school building from 1955 felt a slight movement.
The resolution stated a "thorough engineering assessment of the situation reveals that there are also several other column bases in need of repair in the basement/crawl space of the school which are in imminent danger of failure."
Maye said the initial problem in May was reported as a "bang" sound and "a little shaking" of the school. Further investigation found a column had dropped one-quarter of an inch. He said some of the columns are rusted out and the portion of the school where the problem exists needs to be "jacked up" and certain columns replaced. The project also will involve dehumidification of the basement.
"It's something that needs to be addressed," Maye said. "If we don't address it, it's going to be a bigger problem."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org