For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Contact: Benjamin Paulin
Email: [email protected]
Rockland Officials Address Upcoming Planned Closure of Community Center Building
School Daycare Program will Continue to Operate Until Last Day of School
Officials Actively Seeking Permanent Solution
ROCKLAND — Interim Town Administrator James Purcell, Fire Chief Scott Duffey and Superintendent Alan Cron seek to provide residents with an update regarding the upcoming planned closure of the Rockland Community Center building.
On June 13, the last day of school, the Rockland Community Center, 394 Union St., will be closed per the order of the Rockland Fire Department and the Rockland Building Commissioner due to the building’s non-operational sprinkler system.
The Community Center building, which is owned by the town, currently houses the Rockland Public Schools Daycare program, the Rockland Youth Commission, veteran’s agent, Rockland Historical Society and a local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
Parents should know that there will be no disruption to the school daycare program. It will continue to operate normally through the end of the school year.
Town officials are currently working together to find short-term and long-term solutions for all of the departments and programs currently housed in the building.
In the interim, Chief Duffey has approved the implementation of a daily fire watch program that will be in place at all times that the building is occupied, until June 13.
While the building is in operation, it will be checked every half hour for signs of a fire. In the event of a fire or smoke condition, the fire alarm would be sounded, the building would be evacuated and the fire watch official would call 911.
“We respect and appreciate the work of Chief Duffey and the Rockland Fire Department, who are ultimately accountable to the public for the safety and compliance of these buildings. We deeply appreciate that we have a temporary solution in place that will get our community members through the end of the school year, as we work to find a permanent solution,” Town Administrator Purcell said. “The town has known about this issue for quite some time and has been working vehemently to try and find contractors who could bring the sprinkler system up to code. However, due to the age of the building and the scope of the work that would need to be done, it would require upwards of over $1 million to repair or replace the sprinkler system outright.”
As of this date, no contractor has been located who can update the sprinkler system to get it up to code.
“The building is over 100 years old, and the sprinkler system is currently past its intended lifespan of effectiveness,” Chief Duffey said. “Unless the sprinkler system is replaced or brought up to current code, the building needs to be closed for safety reasons.
“I have worked with Rockland Youth Commission Director Jeanne Blaney and others who use the building to ensure that fire safety protocols and procedures are followed and that the building remains clear of clutter and debris while it remains open. We will also be inspecting the building regularly,” Chief Duffey added. “That, coupled with the building’s brand-new fire alarm system gives me confidence that the building can remain operational on a temporary basis with a fire watch.”
Superintendent Cron said, “The Rockland Daycare provides an incredibly important service to the town and we are committed to finding a short and long-term solution to this problem. For our purposes this plan works to ensure that we do not place an unexpected burden on parents who rely on the daycare program during the middle of the school year. We look forward to working with the town leaders to determine solutions so that there is no disruption to the daycare program.”