Following Assessment of CMS Physical Condition, School is Closed

Greenwich Schools announced Friday afternoon that Central Middle School is closed. Signs posted on the front doors signed by Greenwich’s building official Bill Marr declare the structure, “Dangerous and Unsafe for Human Occupancy.”

An email to families from superintendent Dr. Toni Jones and CMS principal Tom Healy explained that earlier in the day the director of facilities joined officials from the Town’s Division of Building Inspection on a tour of the building to review the results of a recent physical condition assessment conducted by Diversified Technology Consultants, Inc.

The email said the Town’s inspectors made the decision to close the building until it is deemed safe for occupancy by the engineering firm who specializes in this type of structural work.

A sign is posted a sign on the front door of the building to alert the community that the building is closed.

The email said they understood the news would be “unsettling.”

The emails said the district was in discussions with the reputable engineering firm, and as of noon on Friday, they were optimistic that they will provide a safety clearance in conjunction with making some temporary immediate implementations.

Greenwich Schools will use the remainder of Friday and work through the weekend to better understand the timing of this challenge.

“We are hoping that there is a short-term solution which can be quickly implemented. We will continue to communicate with the CMS community as quickly as possible to keep you informed of the progress,” the email said. “Ultimately, please know that there is nothing more important than the safety of our students and staff, and GPS will work with the experts in the field with the utmost diligence.”

See report here: systems evaluation report.

Per the report, the original building, constructed in 1958, is a structural steel masonry structure.

“It has a partial full basement that serves for utility, emergency power, and plenum. A smaller addition was constructed sometime after 1999. Design details and as-built conditions of the original building do not take into consideration best practices making it prone to water infiltration and structural damage. Many of the MEP systems are beyond service life. Generally the facility does not conform to current CT Building Code standards. There are significant structural concerns. By design the taller masonry walls have insufficient lateral bracing for wind and seismic loads. This results in bowing and displacement of the masonry walls and adjoining facades. Wall ties that connect façades to masonry walls are beyond service life and failing, and this poses safety concern as discussed in more detail under the structural section. The original design permits significant water infiltration into the building.”

While they did not conduct destructive testing, the Diversified Technology Consultants said it was possible that the extent of water damage may have resulted in significant deterioration in steel column bearing plates embedded in concrete.

“This can be observed through significant destructive testing or inspection when repairing facades. Thermal resistance of wall assemblies do not meet energy standards of the CT Building Code. The existing building relies heavily on varied sealants and sealing measures to keep water from infiltrating the building through walls and the roofs. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing, (MEP) systems are dated and do not conform to CT Building Code. Significant improvement to the facility would necessitate improving these facilities. Retrofit improvements to mechanical and electrical systems are practical and may involve structural improvements. Retrofit improvements to plumbing, particularly buried piping in slabs on grade, are more problematic.”