Published in the December 21, 2016 edition
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Everyone agrees that there are serious problems with the 13-year-old Public Safety Building, at least on the police side. The question of what to do about it was the topic Monday night, when Janet Slemenda of HKT Architects presented the initial findings of HTK’s analysis of the building.
The presentation to the Permanent Building Committee took place in the Public Safety Building conference room, with Police Chief Rick Smith and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio among those in attendance.
Smith has been adamant that the structural and space issues in the building need to be addressed. He says that there have been problems with the building “since the day we moved in in 2004. The building was way underbuilt for a police department and is too small to serve our needs.”
Smith said yesterday that the current building actually has less space for police than the original building. There are heating and cooling issues and environmental issues, he said. The settling of the building has resulted in cracked walls, broken door frames and doors that won’t close. There are window leaks, generator issues and security concerns, Smith added.
Monday night’s highly technical presentation came out of a feasibility study of the building by HKT Architects and looked at options for addressing the structural and space needs.
A major focus of the study was addressing the shortage of space. The study found that a vertical addition would be problematic and costly due to the fact that the current building as constructed could not bear the load of a third story addition without major reconstruction to increase the load-bearing capacity. The roof from the 2003 addition was placed on top of the old roof. That old roof does not have the capacity to bear the weight of an occupied floor.
A horizontal expansion of the front of the building would be the way to go, Slemenda said Monday night, but it would mean losing parking spaces, as well as losing the apron and green space in front of the building.
The study looked at increasing the length of the sally port on the second floor. To do so, Slemenda said, would involve moving an 8-inch thick concrete masonry block wall further west. Doing that would mean installing a line of steel beams beneath the relocated wall.
To create space, HKT also looked at moving the east concrete block walls of the Prosecutor/Office supply area on the first floor. But a steel braced frame within a portion of the wall is problematic with such a move. Relocating the wall in an adjacent bay is possible. It would involve excavating the existing slab and pouring thickened concrete slab/strip footing below the proposed relocated wall as well as other re-enforcement measures.
The study looks specifically at utilizing the space between the roof of the old police building and the gable roof that was placed on top of the building in the 2003 renovation. Such a move would be a vertical addition with implications related to load-bearing capacity.
The old roof structure was designed to support a snow load of about 30 pounds per square inch, Slemenda explained. To handle the live load of an occupied space, the old roof structure would need to be reinforced. Masonry perimeter bearing walls, interior columns and concrete foundation would also need to be evaluated and reinforced if found inadequate.
The study concluded that a structurally independent horizontal addition would be a more efficient way to obtain additional space in the police building than a vertical addition. The addition structure would comply with code for new buildings.
In terms of the building’s mechanical equipment, the study found that the majority of the heating, air conditioning, ventilation and exhaust systems were in “fair” condition. Boilers and pumps are from the 2003 renovation and are approaching the end of their serviceable life. The study recommends replacing them within the next five years.
Air handling units and other components of the air conditioning/ventilation system are also approaching the end of their serviceable lives, the study found. Water leakage from one of the roof-top units into the telephone room and IT room is a serious concern.
Heating equipment is also approaching the end of its life and given that it is underperforming for the building’s needs, it should be replaced, the study found.
Ventilation issues are also a concern, including the fact that cooking odors from the fire station cooking hood circulate into the police station.
Chief Smith pointed out that the HVAC equipment at the Police Station is part of an automated building management system and the controls are located at Town Hall. Permanent Building Committee members suggested that relocating those control to the Police Station would likely alleviate many of the inconsistencies in heating and cooling the building.
In terms of building security Slemenda noted that the current design of the building access control system does not properly partition the building to restrict access to private business related areas. The analog closed circuit security camera system is antiquated the study concluded.
The study recommends upgrading the interior lighting system to LED.
The study found the Police Department has spaces that meet their needs and spaces that are undersized. Some typical police department spaces simply don’t exist in the current building.
The study concluded that there is not enough space to meet the department’s current needs or future needs. Some spaces were not large enough when built and others have been repurposed to accommodate needs that outgrew their spaces. Technology has expanded needs requiring additional space.
Specific areas of concern include: administrative office and storage space; employee support space; mechanical/electrical/ventilation systems; structural column placement in the garage; sally port and impound bay inefficiencies.
The next steps, according to the study, include a police department review of the report, reviewing options with the Permanent Building Committee, refining recommendations as necessary and creating a cost analysis.
Chief Smith said that he remains positive.
“I look forward to working with the Permanent Building Committee and the town to help us correct the deficiencies and allow us to service the people of the town in the appropriate manner that they deserve,” Smith said.