Town still seeking answers after rink collapse

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The following is an excerpt from a story that appears in the March 5 edition of the Canton Citizen.

Emotions remain raw and frayed and numerous questions have yet to be answered following the sudden collapse of the roof atop Canton’s beloved Metropolis Skating Rink on Saturday morning, February 28.

A portion of the front facade was blown out following the roof collapse at Metropolis Rink. (Moira Sweetland photo)

A portion of the front facade was blown out following the roof collapse at Metropolis Rink. (Moira Sweetland photo)

Even the cause of the collapse, widely presumed to be the result of the snow load on the roof, will likely take weeks to officially determine as town and state officials await the results of a structural engineer’s assessment, according to Canton Fire Chief Charles Doody.

What is clear at this point, said Doody, is that the damage to the rink is “significant” and the facility has been deemed unsafe and officially cordoned off until at least the spring. A statement released by the selectmen’s office on Monday noted that a “facility condition review,” led by representatives from the town’s insurance company and officials from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, is underway and expected to be completed sometime this month.

More importantly, said Doody, is the near-miraculous fact that there were no injuries to the approximately 35 people who were inside the building at the time, including the 13 players and four coaches from Norwood Youth Hockey who were already on the ice when the rear portion of the pitched roof came crashing down in a heap over roughly a quarter of the skating surface shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday.

“The potential was there for an absolute catastrophe,” said the fire chief, who noted that hundreds were expected for a Canton Youth Hockey learn-to-skate jamboree beginning at 9 a.m. that morning. “I feel like we dodged a major bullet.”

In saying that, Doody — who has played hockey at Metropolis both as a youth and an adult — also made it clear that he did not feel as if “anybody did anything wrong” and that not every roof collapse can be prevented, citing the historic and “unprecedented” nature of the 2015 winter.

“We’ve never seen this. We’ve never had five roof collapses in a span of 30 days,” he said, while also adding, “At every collapse we have been to the roofs had been addressed; they had been shoveled and evaluations had been done.”

In the case of the Metropolis Rink, DCR spokesman Bill Hickey indicated that the state agency, which leases the rink to the town, had discussed rooftop snow loads with Canton town officials in the “seven to 10 days” prior to the collapse, including during a site visit on Friday, February 27. Hickey said their advisory to all rinks addressed the responsibility to remove snow from “all sections of the roof: pitched or flat.”

A report from the Friday site visit, a copy of which was obtained by the Citizen, identifies “needed snow removal off roof” but does not elaborate any further. Hickey also gave no indication that anyone at the DCR discussed closing the rink as a preventative measure; however, he did say that the DCR closed five of the eight state-operated rinks for a brief period in February in order to conduct structural engineering assessments “due to the heavy snowfall.”

The Board of Selectmen’s office, in a statement issued on Monday, indicated that the town “continues its ongoing observation and appropriate roof shoveling response (since early February) where needed, especially focused on flat roofs at all municipal building locations.”

“In this regard,” said the statement, “the town’s approach remains consistent with a DCR rink site visit report conducted and issued by the DCR on Friday, February 27, a day before the roof collapse. That report indicated the town should continue with ongoing shoveling.”

“The [DCR] acknowledged we were making our best efforts to observe, monitor the roofs, and shovel and that’s what we had been doing,” said Town Administrator Bill Friel. “There wasn’t any definitive instruction otherwise other than to keep that going …

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avatar Posted by on Mar 5 2015. Filed under News, Police & Fire, Town Government. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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