I would like to begin by thanking all those who have written to show their support since my resignation and encouragement to continue to enlighten the community. In response to requests for information regarding building and environmental issues within (and outside) our Amity schools, I will begin my first column of 2004 with insight into some of the environmental and structural concerns that surfaced with the 1992 building project along with some existing issues that to this day, remain unaddressed. I think it is important for the community to know the facts before making an important decision regarding the fate of our facilities.

When the original high school was constructed in 1952, a brook was diverted that previously ran in the location under which the Auditorium was built. The brook then entered into a swamp, which encompassed the western portion of the present building. In the 1998 Westcott & Mapes Building Investigation Report, it is thought there is a possibility that while the surficial water was effectively diverted, the underlying groundwater is continuing to flow along the path of the former brook.

According to the 1998 report which focused mainly on the Auditorium, 'the building was constructed on a difficult site with high groundwater and shallow bedrock. The groundwater elevation is dramatically affected by precipitation'. This report is a wealth of information.

When the new school building project commenced in 1992, the Auditorium, along with the back gym were the only original parts of the building to remain. Former Board members and teachers recall water incursion problems in the 'old school' gym. Minutes from building committee meetings reflected concern from the onset of the building project related to moisture incursion. Building Committee Meeting minutes from 1990 note "gym problem areas" were discussed. During the '70's, water incursion in the gym was an ongoing issue and barrels of sand were brought in during the summer to help 'flatten' the floor's surface before the start of school in September.

In 1998 minutes state that 'an area near the gym needed a snow fence to stop the accumulation of snow'. I'm not sure it would have stopped the accumulation of water.

This past September 2003, buckling of the floor in the main gym and back gym was discovered. No visible moisture was observed but the contractor's moisture meter registered '20' the highest level of the meter. Concern was that moisture was wicking up from the concrete slab. At a Facilities Meeting in October of 2003 an update on the gym floor was given. The remedy to the situation and the conclusion did not seem logical to me and I requested from the superintendent a report in writing from the contractor who inspected the floor. To date, I have not received this report. It should be noted that the gym has been an area of health concern for many individuals.

Minutes, reports, studies and other data from since the mid '90's document concerns and emphasis on;

· Lecture Hall - (Installer of tile would not guarantee installation in 2003 due to the unusually high moisture reading from the floor's slab. Carpet still remains.)

· Guidance Wing - (Large foundation crack and the recommendation in 2002 that a more in-depth study be performed.)

· Central offices - (High levels of toxic mold found in testing. Walls remediated but moisture incursion was not.)

· Auditorium - an improperly designed and inadequate HVAC system and the documented toxic mold and bacteria found in testing

· Problems in the Photo Lab, Art Room, Administrative Offices and many other areas of the school

· Existence of school's "As-Built" drawings

These and many more issues at all three campuses will be explored in the following weeks. As always all my information is documented and is part of the public records available for viewing at the high school's Central office. Please feel free to email me moldmatters@medscape.com

The opinions in this column are those of Lorri Cavaliere and do not necessarily represent the opinions of this publication.