Water pipes burst recently at the Milton Town Hall on Geyser Road, causing more damage inside a building that is already scheduled for extensive renovation due to roof leaks that created a mold problem and led to its abandonment earlier this year.
The pipes, one on the second floor and one near the furnace, are believed to have broken from Dec. 18’s sub-zero temperatures, apparently because the building — which hasn’t been used for nearly 10 months because of a separate mold problem — wasn’t being properly heated.
“There was a miscommunication,” said town Deputy Supervisor Barbara Kerr. “I’m not even sure the heat was turned on properly in the fall. We’re staying on top of it now. The heat is on. It was nothing malicious.”
After the damage was discovered Dec. 21, commercial emergency response contractor Quick Response was called in to take up soaked carpeting and remove water from the basement, where it had accumulated, Kerr said. Some ceiling tiles will also need to be replaced. She said no files were lost, since most had already been moved out of the building.
The cost of the emergency response isn’t yet known, but Kerr said the town is making an insurance claim for the cost of the remediation work.
Kerr addressed the issue on Thursday in the absence of Town Supervisor Benny Zlotnick, who was unavailable due to a death in the family. Zlotnick, however, had spoken about it at Wednesday night’s Town Board meeting.
The situation has drawn some criticism for the town on social media, including from Antonio Bianchi, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for a Town Board seat in 2019. “More problems at Town Hall,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Committee met in late October and a decision was made to set heat at 50 to 55 degrees for the winter. That information was never relayed to Building and Grounds Supervisor,” Zlotnick wrote in a Facebook response to Bianchi on Tuesday. “It’s disappointing that instead of getting answers, rumors are put out first. There is no financial incentive to have the building damaged any further.”
The new incident comes as the town prepares to go to construction bid for a $1 million renovation on the building, to make it useable again. The Town Board earlier this month authorized the necessary borrowing.
The building was evacuated last March after an outside consultant determined that long-standing roof leaks had lead to the spread of non-toxic mold inside the building. The town offices were relocated to the Milton Community Center on North Line Road on an emergency basis, and they remain there, although the town is planning to move the offices temporarily to a commercial property on Geyser Road.
Bids for the construction-renovation work are scheduled to be opened Jan. 5. The Town Board decided to renovate the building after spending several months studying whether it would make more sense to build an entirely new town hall. The renovation work is expected to take at least through 2021.