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January 19, 2013

Leaky field house roof sparks concern

What started as a nuisance has turned into a safety hazard, city athletic officials say.

The leaky roof at the Benjamin A. Smith Field House took a turn for the worse on Wednesday as the snow and rain mix that hit the area showed that several new leaks have sprung from the top of the school.

“We used to deal with it by putting down buckets, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s unmanageable,” Gloucester High School athletic director Kim Patience said Friday. “(On Wednesday) I put my hand underneath one of the leaks and I could have had a half cup of water in my hands within a couple minutes. It was gushing and new leaks appeared.”

Several buckets were spread all around the field house Wednesday to catch the water leaking from the roof. Buckets were set on both the hardwood basketball court, and the rubberized indoor track that surrounds it.

Fortunately no games were scheduled at the field house Wednesday or Thursday, so Patience did not have to cancel any contests, but the predicament did effect the Gloucester boys and girls basketball practices.

The two teams, who practice in the field house from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., respectively, were forced to practice on half the court, using two side baskets to shoot on and run drills.

During the BankGloucester Holiday Tournament in late December, a leak in the roof caused water to drip onto the court underneath one of the baskets during Gloucester’s tournament championship game with Manchester Essex. After a short delay, however, the game was able to continue as the dripping water was wiped up off the floor while the action was on the other end of the court.

“First priority was safety for the kids,” said Gloucester boys basketball coach Bill Cahill, whose team played on the field house floor Friday night. “We told them to stay away from the side of the floor where water was dripping.

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