Selectmen approve bonding to clean Osborn Hill

The Fairfield Board of Selectmen authorized nearly $4.2 million in bonding for the remediation of Osborn Hill Elementary School after the discovery of PCB contamination.

The bond includes more than $820,000 in preliminary costs.

“Prior to Hurricane Sandy this was the biggest issue in town,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Title told the selectmen at their Jan. 2 meeting.

The contamination was originally discovered when the school was preparing for window replacement. Key areas, including the library, some classrooms and halls, and the gymnasium, were found to have elevated levels of PCBs.

Reimbursement for some of the bonding is available, but there are rules governing the application process for the funds. Of primary concern is a 60-day ruling, which the town is skirting. First Selectman Michael Tetreau said there were some creative efforts by the Billing Department to keep things within the time limits. The reimbursement rate from the state is up to 25%.

By the time selectmen met to discuss the bonding, the library at Osborn Hill was back in use, and most of the halls have been opened for students. The gymnasium is the primary part of the building that still needs remediation. That part of the project is estimated to cost $650,000.

The PCB contamination is believed to have originated from paint used in the gym. However, it has been found in masonry throughout parts of the school.

Title noted that there are still some students who have not seen the entire building.

Officials and architects working with the school told the board there may be more contamination. They won’t know the full extent until more testing is done.

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