March 15, 2021
During this last year of the COVID pandemic, despite delays and setbacks, we managed to see to completion a few badly needed projects: During the summer months we had arranged for the removal and replacement of the original copper and pipes and gate valves in our Water Treatment Building. The old pipes had become corroded in places and we were hesitant to turn the gate valves, for fear that if shut, we wouldn’t be able to re-open them. The old gate valves were replaced with more reliable full port ball valves, which allow us to shut off water to one building or group of buildings at a time, which is very helpful for doing plumbing repairs.
And for quite some time the exterior cladding on the west-facing side of our C Building had been in need of repair. The old siding was a sort of particle board, manufactured from sawdust and adhesives. When moisture gets past the veneer, the siding starts to swell, it buckles and flakes. Eventually you’ve got bare patches and holes. You can’t sand it. You can’t patch it. You can paint it, but that doesn’t help. During November the old siding and windows were removed and replaced with beautiful new wood siding and new window openings were framed in. What a difference! We are pleased with the results. Next step is to replace the old roof with “Unity Acres green” metal roofing. We hope to complete the work in the spring.
During this last year of the COVID pandemic, despite delays and setbacks, we managed to see to completion a few badly needed projects. We are especially pleased that a complete exhaust and ANSUL system has been installed in our kitchen. We had had a non-operating ventilation unit already installed, which we couldn’t get repaired, and moreover which was undersized for the current arrangement of our oven, grill and deep-fryer. The new system operates exactly as we had anticipated. The ANSUL is an automoatic fire suppression system, which delivers water and fire suppressant chemical should there ever be an uncontrolled fire in the kitchen. We are glad to have this fine addition to our food service area. Many thanks to John Sharkey for making all the arrangements for this installation.
March 7, 2020
In February of 2018, we promised to begin including in the newsletters and on this website more information about the various building and maintenance projects that we are able to undertake, from time to time, and which are made possible through the labor of staff and residents, and by the generosity of our donors. We did manage to put an article in the following newsletter about improvements to our Water Treatment Building and a ‘Masonry Project’ at the Brick Building.
Since Father Jones’ illness and death in July 2018, we haven’t gotten further ‘Projects’ articles into the newsletter, but will try to do a brief update now. In early November 2019, a sudden heavy windstorm blew through our area, shearing the tops of some trees in spots, toppling others. One such spot included a stand of pines and other trees which surround a small cinderblock building which houses the pump controls for our potable water system. Bear’s inspection of the area the next morning discovered several toppled trees, and one damaged roof.
Fortunately, our neighbor Levi, was willing to takeon the job of making repairs, namely putting a new steel roof over the damaged roof. We fetched the steel from a shop down in Williamstown, where the roofing is fabricated, and Levi got the roofing on the Pump House roof in short order. But in looking around at a few other smaller roofs that day in November, we agreed to re-roof the Water Treatment Building and the back entrance to the Star Building this spring. So another trip to Williamstown, this morning in fact, to pick up more steel roofing, and Levi is now back on the job of shoring up roofs at Unity Acres!
June 27, 2018
The Unity Acres Property is not served by municipal water (or sewer), so we have to provide these services ourselves. Our water system consists of a drilled well, a small cinder-block pump house hidden away amongst the trees, and a ‘Water Treatment Building’. This last is a small white frame building immediately to the east of the Dining Hall. Below grade, at the bottom of a short flight of stairs are located the modern pumps, pumps drives, and chlorinator that were installed back in the fall of 2012, and which replaced a very old, temperamental and idiosyncratic collection of pumps, compressors and controls.
There are are also two large contact tanks in the Water Treatment Building, each containing up to 1,000 gallons of water [1,000 gallons = 8,340 pounds!].
These tanks had been put in place in 2003 after one of the original cast-iron underground storage tanks failed suddenly, and were placed atop hastily improvised wooden supports, which during the subsequent fifteen or so years deteriorated badly. With the deterioration of the original wooden supports, the large water tanks were beginning to tilt alarmingly.
This spring we had the old rotten supports replaced with cinder-block, and additionally have some of old valves and other hardware replaced.
We’ve dubbed The other major project for Spring 2018 the ‘Brick Restoration’. The Brick Building used to house a dormitory for new residents, but is now used principally for storage of donated clothing and coffee, mattresses, furniture and a great deal of other items. The Coffee Shop is attached to the Brick Building and a Carpentry Shop and a Plumbing Shop are located in the basement, as well as a tunnel providing access to the ‘C Building’ basement. Critically, the electrical service for the entire Unity Acres property is fed through the ‘Electrics Room’ in the basement of the Bricks.
A few years ago, a small shed attached to the back of Bricks collapsed. This shed had been used as a storage space for lawn mowers and other such equipment. Soon after, another attached shed collapsed under the weight of a heavy snow-fall. Neither of these sheds were being used at the time. However, once the debris had been cared away, it was clear that the Bricks would need attention soon: the north-facing wall was in very bad condition. In places, with missing mortar, gaps between the bricks went all the way from the exterior of the wall to the interior side.
But before addressing the masonry issues, we needed to attend to the roof! Fortunately, we were able to hire two local roofers who installed sheet-metal roofing during the fall of 2017. With the new roof in place, we were able to move on to the next step late during the spring of 2018 and hired a contractor to replace crumbled bricks and eroded mortar.