Northampton To Pay $65,000 For Another Look at School

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By Stefanie Jackson – 

Northampton supervisors approved a budget appropriation of $65,000 Monday night for a complete investigation and analysis of Northampton High School’s structural and operational issues.

The contract was awarded to Waller, Todd and Sadler Architects, of Virginia Beach.

The firm will provide a second opinion of the high school’s structural condition to help county and school officials decide whether the building must be repaired, replaced, or a combination of both.

The preceding opinion of structural engineering firm, Speight, Marshall, and Francis, also of Virginia Beach, is that “the present structural condition of the entire facility can best be described as fair to poor and is quickly deteriorating,” as stated in an April 2018 letter to Northampton schools Director of Operations Chris Truckner.

The scope of the project has been expanded to include the examination of the high school’s roof, stormwater drainage, and mechanical and electrical systems – “pretty much everything that make the building run,” Northampton Director of Finance John Chandler said.

Waller, Todd and Sadler will prepare a report including the remaining lifespan of every part of the building, along with the cost to replace each part within five, 10, 15, or 20 years.

In other business, Northampton’s director of public works, Chris Thomas, announced the completion of the construction of the new EMS garage in Machipongo.

The building was finished on Dec. 18, 2018, and the certificate of occupancy was received on Jan. 8.

There was more concrete and asphalt buried in the soil (from old Route 13) than anticipated, and it had to be removed before the garage could be constructed. The work was more extensive than anticipated, and more fill was needed, but the project was just barely finished under budget. The project budgeted for $360,000 cost $359,996.

The dredging of Willis Wharf was completed on Oct. 31, 2018, with a final cost of $345,547.

This project was also completed in less-than-ideal circumstances. The harbor could not be dredged as deep as planned because more than 13,000 cubic yards of material needed to be removed, but the spoils site was filled to capacity after a little more than 9,000 cubic yards of material was removed.

Northampton is moving forward with a new joint project with Accomack – a regional household hazardous waste facility.

Examples of household hazardous waste, not accepted at convenience centers, include motor oil, antifreeze, fuel, pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, oil-based paint, and drain cleaner.

A permanent household hazardous waste facility would allow such items to be disposed twice a week instead of once a year at a collection drive.

The facility will be built approximately mid-region, in Painter, using Virginia Department of Health grant funds.

“I just feel it’s a win-win for the residents of the Shore, for water quality – groundwater protection,” said Shannon Alexander, of the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission.

Chairman Spencer Murray was concerned about the annual costs of having the hazardous materials collected and transported offsite.

Accomack, the larger county, would pay two-thirds of the operating costs, and Northampton would pay one-third. For example, if Accomack paid $16,000, Northampton would pay $8,000.

The costs would be budgeted within each county’s public works department, and if the funds were depleted before the year ended, the facility could be closed temporarily, Alexander said.

“If we’re committed to providing a service of collecting and diverting hazardous waste from the landfill and from being improperly stored in garages and houses everywhere, then we’re going to have to spend the money,” County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski said.

“I don’t want it in our landfill … you don’t want people pouring it into ditches, you don’t want people throwing it overboard on the dock,” Murray agreed.

Northampton supervisors voted for the regional household hazardous waste facility in a unanimous decision.