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Concord High gym, Storrs Street suffer water damage ahead of storm

  • Water flows down Storrs Street early Wednesday morning after a water main break near the parking garage in downtown Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Water flows down Storrs Street early Wednesday morning after a water main break near the parking garage in downtown Concord on Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Steam rises from the water running down Storrs Steet early Wednesday morning after a water main broke near Dubois Avenue in downtown Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Concord General Services employees work on the water main break near Dubois Avenue along Storrs Street in downtown Concord on Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Steam rises from the water running down Storrs Steet after a water main broke near Dubois Avenue in downtown Concord on Wednesday morning, Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • One half of the Concord High School gym had to be shut down due to water damage to the floor, but the varsity basketball team still practiced on the other side of the gym on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Concord General Services employees discuss the next move as they work on a water main along Storrs Street in downtown Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • A Concord General Services worker guides a water valve into the hole made to fix the water main break on Storrs Street in downtown Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor

  • Concord General Services employees worked most of Wednesday to repair a water main break, using heavy equipment as the sun went down on Storrs Street and Dubois Avenue as traffic went around them. The crew had to bring in portable lights to finish the task of attaching the new water pipeline. GEOFF FORESTER—Concord Monitor



Monitor staff
Thursday, January 04, 2018

The impending snowstorm hadn’t hit Concord yet, but emergency crews and city officials were scrambling to fix problems from leaky pipes amid prolonged cold.

The Concord High School gym’s recently renewed floor took water damage after overhead sprinkler leaks, forcing basketball games to be relocated for the time being, and a morning water main break downtown had water pouring along Storrs Street and crewmembers working past nightfall.

Concord High School

A few sprinkler heads and a connector on a water pipe at Concord High School ruptured on New Year’s Day, causing damage in several rooms, according to an email sent to parents.

The worst, however, was the sprinkler head that burst just outside the school gym, which resulted in the flooding of the recently redone gym floor. While the extent of the damage is unknown, the gym has been put out of commission for basketball games, said Concord school district Superintendent Terri Forsten.

“There’s a bit of a rise on the wooden floor, and you can’t quite see it if you’re looking at the floor, but if you get down and run your hand over it, you can feel the rise,” Forsten said Wednesday. “We can all imagine what the range will be to fix it, but we just don’t know right now.”

The gym is still usable for classes, Forsten said. Closing the gym for competitive sports, however, was necessary for safety reasons. Home basketball games will be relocated to NHTI and Merrimack Valley for the foreseeable future.

Other rooms damaged include the student center and band room; both were usable for students Wednesday.

It’s still too early to say how long the gym will remain closed or how much it will cost to fix the damage, Forsten said. The damage came just as the district is preparing to tackle its 2019 Fiscal Year budget.

The gym floor was sanded, repaired, repainted and refinished in summer 2016 to the tune of $41,000, Forsten said.

“It’s not old at all, it’s a beautiful new floor,” she said. “We’re all pretty sick thinking about it.”

What is clear, however, is that the damage was caused by the cold weather. Forsten said the school plans to file a claim with its insurance company. In the meantime, the district is also working on a proposal to improve the insulation in some of the school’s “cold spots.”

“We’ve had some pretty regular issues over there with the sprinklers and pipes,” Forsten said. “We know it’s time to take a more serious look at it.”

Classes were canceled in December 2016 after a burst pipe flooded the school’s health and science classrooms, as well as part of the Concord Regional Technical Center, special education classrooms and one large lecture hall.

Storrs Street

It wasn’t just the school affected by leaking pipes. A break in a water main along Storrs Street on Wednesday morning in subzero temperatures sent water down the sidewalk and caused at least one business to close early.

Concord General Services was forced to shut water off in the downtown after an underground pipe burst at Dubois Avenue and Storrs Street in the morning, according to a General Services spokesperson.

The city had to shut off water to some businesses between Depot Street and the Loudon Road overpass while the rupture was repaired.

Cheers Grille & Bar owner Doug Milbury said he learned of the water main break about 9 a.m. He said the restaurant would be closed until the break was fixed.

“I’d like to have it open, but I don’t,” he said.

Director of General Services Chip Chesley, however, said it was unlikely the water main break was caused by cold. A cursory examination of the pipe showed no lateral breakage, the telltale sign of water freezing and expanding.

There was little time to conduct a proper diagnosis, however, in order to prepare for the 8 inches of snow forecast to start falling Thursday morning. Chesley said his department has been busy taking salt deliveries and lining up schedules for snow removal.

Chesley said it’s not the snow that worries him – it’s the weather following it.

“The issue that probably has us most concerned is the wind and cold weather that follows the storm, and the possibility of snow drifting,” he said. “You could have a road that’s clear one minute and then a gust of wind comes and it’s covered. ...There’s no rhyme or reason.”

Chesley advised motorists to avoid driving if they can and to be aware of the possibility of impacted driving conditions.

He also advised that there’s a “pretty good chance” of a citywide parking ban Friday starting at midnight, and a winter maintenance parking ban Sunday at midnight.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com and on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)