Floods Cheaper Than A Fix

NORTH ATTLEBORO – It would be cheaper to deal with the consequences of a flood at town hall than to install a basement drainage system, selectmen learned on Thursday.

The town’s municipal building committee hired CBI Consulting to study the costs of
installing a drainage system to keep water out of town hall after floodwater poured into the
basement during a March 2010 downpour.

It was the second time the basement was damaged in a flood.  During last year’s deluge, 3 inches of water poured into the basement, damaging the board of health office, selectmen’s conference room and records and materials housed in a storage area.

Insurance paid for repair and cleanup costs at town hall and several other buildings, which together totaled about $900,000.  Installing a french drain system around the perimeter of the building would cost about $479,106 – meaning the town would pay around $50,000 a year during the 10-year loan for
the project.  The town spent a $50,000 deductible to clean up last year’s flood damage.

“We could flood every year, and still be ahead of the game,” Town Administrator Mark
Fisher said.

A second option, installing a drainage system inside the building would be cheaper at
$354,618, but would involve significant disruption to daily operations during construction.

“The cost is essentially prohibitive,” said Deb Kohl, chairwoman of the municipal building
committee. “It might be exceedingly effective, but it’s not exceedingly cost effective.”

Kohl said there is no guarantee the work would completely prevent any flooding.

Some changes have been made to the town hall basement to limit damage if flooding occurs in the future. Carpets have been removed and replaced with tile. Plastic baseboard hides the fact that drywall does not reach all the way down to the floor. Shelving has been rearranged and added to keep records off the floor.  Fisher said there might be some other minor changes made, including the installation of alarms that would call town officials if water is sensed in the basement.

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