Officials furious as leaks continue at North Dartmouth library

Sep 16, 2021

Water is still leaking into the basement of the North Dartmouth library branch and town officials forcefully expressed their outrage, sometimes in language laced with expletives, at the situation.

Officials confirmed the leaks at a Sept. 15 Library Building Committee meeting where emotions ran high and one member said he was tempted to seek legal advice.

“To be honest, I’m ready to bring in counsel,” said committee member Shawn McDonald, who also chairs the Select Board. “I’m just sick and tired of this.”

The $10.5 million library was beset by a variety of construction issues leading up to its delayed opening last January, including a leak in the basement

In early February, officials noted that water was still leaking into the basement. To remedy the situation, the committee unanimously approved an $8,770 proposal to fix the leaks along the building’s north wall.

To fix that leak, Quincy-based contractor G & R Construction used a hydrophilic grout injection to create a seal. Despite that fix, water continues to seep into the basement.

“It’s leaked the last couple of times in the heavier storms,” committee member Bruce Brooks noted. “You have water in that basement now.”

Town officials remain at odds with the building’s contractors and architect over the cause of the leaks.

According to Brooks, the issue lies with the grading of the building.

He noted that halfway up the hill toward the building, any drainage paths are sloped toward the library.

“It’s a hell of a lot more than two percent pitch, but in the wrong direction,” Brooks said. “We’ve created a nice, little pond in there, in the inside corner where all those roof lines come together — and we’re not getting rid of any water.”

Project Manager Dan Pallotta, of Norwell-based P3, said the problem is not with the grading, but is instead geotechnical — meaning it is likely the result of soil and rock surrounding the building

“I pray it’s just grading, but it doesn’t seem to be,” he said. “It’s a building in a bathtub and it’s got a whole series of things that we have to figure out to fix and we’re not doing it — we’re putting Band-aid over Band-aid.”

Brooks disagreed with Pallotta’s theory.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous to even think that way,” he said.

Ultimately, the committee voted unanimously to have an independent geotechnical engineer look into the water issues surrounding the library

The town’s development director, Cody Haddad, will look into potential vendors.