Following the release of Bohemia-based P.W Grosser Consulting’s environmental report on Northport Middle School that deemed the building safe to reopen, district officials addressed questions from parents and community members at a virtual forum June 25.
District officials hope that the over-three-hour meeting, which had a lengthy question-and-answer portion, is the first step in reassuring the community as remediation work continues to take place at the middle school.
PWGC senior project manager, Jennifer Lewis, said that the district should prepare a management plan to deal with the arsenic found in soils within the track field. The firm recommended that the district should do routine maintenance of the HVAC system, conduct sanitization of roof drains and have a roofing contractor inspect the roof drains to determine if they are properly sealed.
In addition, the firm asked for the district to seal the sanitary system and remove gas tanks from the school. The district has already begun some of the remediation work including moving school buses off campus to another location on Brightside Avenue.
“‘Safe to occupy’ is our collective opinion based on our investigation of the site,” Lewis said. “We did not identify a concern with a path of exposure that would render the building unsafe for students or staff to occupy. As long as the ongoing maintenance and remediations mentioned continue, we do consider this matter to be resolved.”
Trustee members praised PWGC for its work.
“There were a lot of dots that needed to be connected in terms of previous studies, to have a clear narrative of examples of the environmental conditions at the school,” said trustee Larry Licopoli.
“This study addressed the whole picture in a way that wasn’t done before,” he said.
Parents and community members asked PWGC if the problems found at the school could have caused previous ailments children and staff faced over the years.
The environmental firm couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“We can’t say in the past this wasn’t making them sick — we can’t recreate the past,” said PWGC project manager Heather Moran-Botta.
Moran-Botta reiterated that the firm is confident that the school is safe.
“We can only say, based on what we are seeing now, the building is safe for occupancy,” she said.
Trustee members will vote to approve all recommendations at a July 9 board meeting.