By Marjorie Nesin Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — A rain storm penetrated the Pond Road building that is Cape Ann Transportation Authority headquarters, sopping documents in the city offices upstairs and leaking through medical supplies in the city’s health board office last weekend.
“This has happened all the way around,” CATA General Manager Robert B. Ryan said, pointing at PVC material that has pulled up from the edges of the flat roof. The disconnect leaves a gap between the building’s walls and roof’s edge, and through that gap insulation peaks out and occasionally birds swoop past the browned fluff to visit city workers inside.
So it was timely when the Cape Ann Transportation Authority (CATA) was granted a $408,179 chunk of federal money for roof work. The money was part of a package of $13.2 million distributed to transportation companies statewide, according to a Massachusetts Department of Transportation press release Tuesday.
“It’s been in the works for some time,” CATA General Manager Robert B. Ryan said. CATA Administrator Paul Talbot began applying to receive funding years ago, according to Transit Supervisor Paul Scanlon.
According to Ryan, CATA has spent between $15,000 and $20,000 on roof repairs over the last handful of years. And, with a crew working from Monday through Thursday to clean up after last’s weekend storm, it is expecting to tack on another bill.
Repair money over the years has come out of CATA’s pocket, since the transportation company owns the building and rents the upstairs offices out to city boards, including the Board of Health and the Shellfish Department.
City employees arriving to work Monday morning discovered damaged medical supplies in the Health Board’s storage area, piles of documents misshapen and wrinkled by wetness, water-soaked carpets, and fallen tiles in the women’s bathroom.
Gloucester Public Health Nurse Chassea Golden Robinson said the Health Board would need to order new supplies before its final flu clinics, since the board was forced to throw away nearly 80 percent of the supplies kept in a now water-logged room. The board lost bandages, machines that test respirators for fit, alcohol wipes, and other supplies, but not the flu vaccines.
“For all the times for this to happen, in the middle of the flu season,” Robinson lamented Thursday.
The state selected CATA as one of 11 transportation companies, from a pool of 28 applicants, to receive the federal money, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The distributed dollars can be used for buses, transportation buildings, or customer service improvements. The money was part of a federal initiative under the Obama administration, called “We Can’t Wait,” which allows individual states to apply unused federal transportation earmarks to local projects.
City Building Inspector Bill Sanborn said the project really couldn’t wait.
“There’s only so much you can do with a roof that’s outdated and worn out,” Sanborn said.
The money, which was excess from federal earmarks from the years of 2003 to 2006, do not require a state or local funding match, according to the state Transportation Department. A plan is not yet set for the roof construction. But, Scanlon said the federal funds, distributed by the state, would cover the complete cost of replacing the roof.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.