Minister: Future Use Of TN Tatem Building

February 29, 2020 | 5 Comments

At present there are 6 entities occupying space at the T. N. Tatem facility which are under licence to July 31st, and before the Ministry can entertain additional proposals, there needs to be a “full assessment of the facility and the challenges that the building faced.”

This was from Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch who said, “Following the formal announcement last week by the Minister of Education that T. N. Tatem Middle School would not reopen – responsibility now falls to the Ministry of Public Works to decide on future uses for the school.

TN Tatem school Dec 2016 (32)

“As I reported last year, the buildings could not simply remain shuttered for an entire school year. Everyone knows what happens when any building in our sub-tropical climate is closed – it’s the perfect environment for mold and mildew – [Bermuda’s National Flower] – to flourish.

” We discussed the temporary repurposing of some of the buildings so that there remained a physical presence on site to discourage vandalism, damage or even unauthorized occupancy of the building. All of which have occurred over this period.

“At present there are 6 entities currently occupying space at the facility with discussions fairly well advanced with a 7th group.

“Bermuda’s most outstanding professional boxer, Mr. Nikki Bascome runs a boxing gym – that also caters to young folk interested in the sport, Mr. Steve Parkes will run an afterschool carpentry programme for students, Ms. Gina Thomas is running Hidden Treasures Thrift Boutique with part proceeds going to the Foster Parent Association, Mrs. Lucinda Worrell-Stowe runs Positive Energy Community Kitchen and Mr. Cervio Cox is running a fitness gym in the gymnasium that is geared more to the casual fitness buff rather than the hard core gym rat.

“All of these activities are under licence to July 31st, 2020. Now that a final decision has been made – we will enter into discussion with them about their future.

“Following the announcement last week, there have been a myriad of calls and emails seeking to use space at the facility. However, before the Ministry can entertain any of these proposals, there needs to first be a full assessment of the facility and the challenges that the building faced in the first place.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good Morning, Mr. Speaker.

Following the formal announcement last week by the Minister of Education that T. N. Tatem Middle School would not reopen – responsibility now falls to the Ministry of Public Works to decide on future uses for the school.

The school has been closed a few times over a number of years due to concerns regarding health and safety, mold and air quality.

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the assertions being made in some quarters that the building is mold infested and should be demolished – the facts simply don’t bear that out.

Let me quote an excerpt from the Environmental and Air Quality assessment report of February 19th, 2019:

Quote:

It is our opinion that everything that we observed is directly related to an inadequate general and routine maintenance at the facility. The issues that we noted today are the same issues which we noted back in 2013 and are the same issues that closed the school in 2017.

  • 1] Water leaks associated with poorly maintained roofs, wall cracks, air-conditioning and plumbing
  • 2] Windows and window screens which are either inoperable or have limited operation
  • 3] Inoperable mechanical systems
  • 4] Inappropriate storage
  • 5] Accumulation of waste
  • 6] Inadequate housekeeping

It is our opinion that if these items are adequately addressed and maintained on an ongoing basis, the issue of mold and poor indoor air quality [IAQ] would not return.

End quote.

Mr. Speaker, as I reported last year, the buildings could not simply remain shuttered for an entire school year. Everyone knows what happens when any building in our sub-tropical climate is closed – it’s the perfect environment for mold and mildew – [Bermuda’s National Flower] – to flourish.

In August last year I conducted a tour of the facility to ascertain what steps should be taken to ensure the integrity, security and ongoing cleanliness of the buildings. We discussed the temporary repurposing of some of the buildings so that there remained a physical presence on site to discourage vandalism, damage or even unauthorized occupancy of the building. All of which have occurred over this period.

Mr. Speaker, several of the classrooms – particularly those in the family services block – a single story structure at the eastern end of the property -were suitable for various community activities that could provide that physical presence we sought. Included in that area is a weight training room, carpentry and woodwork shops, family studies and counselling rooms along with toilet facilities. All of these areas tested clean of any mold or air quality issues.

Mr. Speaker, Pembroke Hamilton Club [PHC] [let me declare my interest as a member of PHC] have had a long standing lease arrangement with the Ministry of Public Works for the use of the playing field for both training and their multitude of community football programmes – so it was a natural fit to approach them first to see if there could be some temporary expanded use of the school facilities, that could assist with their programmes.

Needless to say they were very receptive of the offer and we have provided use of classroom space for their after school programmes and toilet facilities.

Mr. Speaker, at present there are 6 entities currently occupying space at the facility with discussions fairly well advanced with a 7th group.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda’s most outstanding professional boxer, Mr. Nikki Bascome runs a boxing gym – that also caters to young folk interested in the sport, Mr. Steve Parkes will run an afterschool carpentry programme for students, Ms. Gina Thomas is running Hidden Treasures Thrift Boutique with part proceeds going to the Foster Parent Association, Mrs. Lucinda Worrell-Stowe runs Positive Energy Community Kitchen and Mr. Cervio Cox is running a fitness gym in the gymnasium that is geared more to the casual fitness buff rather than the hard core gym rat. Mr. Speaker, I repeat that all of these activities are under licence to July 31st, 2020. Now that a final decision has been made – we will enter into discussion with them about their future.

It will come as no surprise to you, Mr. Speaker, that following the announcement last week, there have been a myriad of calls and emails seeking to use space at the facility. However, before the Ministry can entertain any of these proposals, there needs to first be a full assessment of the facility and the challenges that the building faced in the first place.

Mr. Speaker, let me touch on just one other aspect of the challenges we have faced over the intervening months – and that is the use of the site as a dumping ground for all manner of household waste. Signs will go up shortly and CCTV coverage will be expanded to identify the culprits who will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is incomprehensible to me that someone would load their vehicle with garbage and drive to T. N. Tatem to dispose of it rather than travelling a few more miles down the road to Tynes Bay and do their small part to keep our island clean.

Mr. Speaker, we will move as fast as we can to get the building ready for future uses while taking into consideration suggestions made by members of the public and colleagues.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Typical Bermudian says:

    We should put a waterpark here!

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    “Following the announcement last week, there have been a myriad of calls and emails seeking to use space at the facility. However, before the Ministry can entertain any of these proposals, there needs to first be a full assessment of the facility and the challenges that the building faced in the first place.”

    Good grief! The MOE has been aware of falling birth rates for years. The MOE has seen the flight of children from public to private schools for years. W&E has been supposedly taking care of that building for decades. It really does not take much to see that it was going to be surplus to needs or that if you don’t take care of it properly it will fall into disrepair.

    Now the Ministry is going to take maybe years to decide through umteen committees & meetings that the building is no longer needed. Meanwhile those who would like to rent sections of it are told to wait.

    Guess what? They have businesses to run. They don’t have time to wait. While Government chews the fat over what to do these businesses will find accomodation somewhere else & the building will hang, not earning anything, around the taxpayers neck.

  3. Trump supporter says:

    Let’s make it a fin tech hub, ooops nevermind.

  4. Romano says:

    Oh those who lead. They have to rely on the expertise of others. This is not a put down to the minister who needs the expertise of many. But my little imput is for the minister and alllll the buildings under his leadership. The so called new wave building methods of quick, easy and cost effective, is a more expensive to fix. Here you lost entire building in a few short years to these methods. Hundreds of buildings throughout the island suffer the same by so called new fast unbermudian methods. But I know what will happen… Bermudians with the knowledge will continue to be sidestepped for the so called better cheaper solution. My favotite saying is “cheap is dear”
    Any further

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    “there needs to be a “full assessment of the facility and the challenges that the building faced.””

    Really? The Government closed the school permanently without doing a “full assessment of the facility and the challenges that the building faced”?

    Clearly something is going on that we are not allowed to know about!

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