Cottonwood Middle School gym floor ruined by leaking cooler pipes

Cottonwood Middle School Assistant Principal and District Athletic Director Bill Sanderlin, stands atop badly buckling floorboards in the middle school’s gym. VVN/Jon Pelletier

Cottonwood Middle School Assistant Principal and District Athletic Director Bill Sanderlin, stands atop badly buckling floorboards in the middle school’s gym. VVN/Jon Pelletier

COTTONWOOD -- The weekend before school started, the gymnasium floor at Cottonwood Middle School was flooded by leaking cooler pipes, according to Cottonwood-Oak Creek District Superintendent Barbara U'Ren.

"The cause of the damage was a broken float valve on one of the coolers causing the cooler pan to overflow," U'Ren explained. "Many gallons of water soaked into and under the wood floor. The integrity of the wood floor was damaged severely and is irreparable."

U'Ren explained that during an inspection of the damaged floor, it was discovered that a rubberized sub-floor contains mercury. "It's not a danger as it is," she said. But the gym is blocked off from students, and the sub-floor must be removed. That will take some time, U'Ren said.

She said the district will not have all the details for several days. But they do know that the sub-flooring can be put in the landfill.

"The timeline for complete floor replacement will fall between mid November and mid December," U'Ren said.

An estimate of the total cost of damages won't be known until all of the information regarding the removal of the sub-floor is available.

"As far as we know," U'Ren said, "most of it will be paid by insurance." She said the district may have to pay for part of the sub-floor removal, but that hasn't been determined yet.

In the meantime, most of the school's sports teams are outside right now. "The City of Cottonwood has generously supported us by allowing us temporary us of the volleyball court for games (at the Cottonwood Recreation Center)," U'Ren said.

"We're not utilizing that gym," she said.

CMS athletics will be utilizing the Tavasci multi-purpose room for practice and games and will also utilize the CES multipurpose room as a practice facility.

She said she believes the gym floor was about 15 to 20 years old.

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