The Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday gave unanimous approval for a certificate of compliance for school officials to provide a temporary gym at Osborn Hill School, where the gymnasium has been declared off limits for the academic year because of PCB contamination.
The TPZ approval was granted even though school officials don't yet know exactly what that temporary gym space will be.
PCB contamination at the Stillson Road school has mostly been remediated by a cleanup since spring. However, the gymnasium, where unsafe levels of the toxin have been traced to fireproofing, will likely remain sealed off until the end of the school year that began Thursday.
"This is kind of a unique situation," Assistant Planning Director James Wendt said. "It has not yet been determined what type of structure will be used. They're looking at a couple of options" for the temporary gym.
Those options include a tented structure or a large portable classroom. "This is a temporary structure in either event," Wendt said.
The temporary gym would be located on the southern end of the school's property in the parking lot.
At this point, school officials plan to use the temporary gym for the entire school year, according to Sal Morabito, manager of construction, security and safety. "We hope to have the gym remediation plan solved by then," he said. "At this point, it's not something I could tell you we only need for two months."
Morabito said the temporary structure would encompass about 2,500 square feet. He said a security camera would be added at the school door that will be used by students leaving the building to go to the gym and access would be controlled by a keypad. Students will be accompanied by a teacher at the gym.
TPZ Commissioner James Kennelly noted that students will have to wear coats to go to gym during colder months, which would be a "headache" for teachers.
Morabito said there are no plans to building any sort of canopy between the school and the temporary gym. Because the temporary structure will not have fire sprinklers, it cannot be attached to the school under existing building codes.
High levels of PCBs in two Osborn Hill kindergarten classrooms have caused those classes -- rooms 107 and 108 -- to be relocated until levels can be brought within EPA guidelines.
Testing done Sunday showed PCB levels of 140 and 150 nanograms per normal cubic meter, while EPA safety guidelines for kindergarten rooms allow only 100 units.