New elevator operational at Williston Central School (9/10/09)

Gallons of hydraulic fluid missing from previous elevator

Sept. 10, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Williston Central School is now compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, due to the installation of a new elevator.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
The new elevator at Williston Central School, pictured above, makes the school compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Starting in June and working through the summer, construction crews built the elevator onto the northeast portion of the school.

In the process of dismantling the old elevator, crews discovered that 37 gallons of hydraulic fluid had disappeared.

“They couldn’t find it,” District Principal Walter Nardelli told the School Board at its Sept. 2 meeting. “It’s simply gone.”

Middlebury-based Bread Loaf Construction built the new elevator and dismantled the old one, located near the cafeteria and old gym. Nardelli told the board that Bread Loaf has a few final “touch ups” to do to the interior of the elevator and should be finished with the project this month.

But for now, the new elevator is operational and can be accessed by students with disabilities and the school’s facilities department for moving heavy equipment. Teachers and staff were given keys to access the elevator’s controls so students can’t operate it on their own. The interior is covered with a blue, padded lining to protect the walls from damage when large items are transported.

Last March, voters agreed to use $200,000 in the district’s construction fund to build the elevator. It was decided to place it on the exterior of the building — the entrance is inside the school — instead of at the old elevator’s site due to cost. Nardelli said earlier this year that rebuilding the old elevator would have cost more than four times the number that voters approved. He told the board he would have the final costs of the project tallied up by the time it met again next month.

As for the missing 37 gallons of hydraulic fluid, Nardelli surmised the old elevator leaked for the entire 40 years it existed in the school. Facility crews refilled the fluid several times throughout its history, with the last refill occurring eight years ago, he said. The administration did not know of the missing hydraulic fluid until this summer, Nardelli said.

Nardelli told the board the fluid likely seeped into the ground underneath the school. It’s not feasible to investigate the exact location of the spill, he said.

“We’d have to tear the building down to get to it,” he said.

The School Board agreed to draft a letter for public record to be included with the state’s Land Records Department. If, sometime in the future, a new building were to be constructed on the site of Williston Central School, builders would be aware of the missing fluid and would need to investigate.

“It doesn’t mean (the site) is contaminated, it simply means (the hydraulic fluid) is missing,” Nardelli said.