Flood Is Major Setback For New Veterans Facility At Grace Center In Mashpee

Two weeks after the Nam Vets Association of the Cape & Islands signed papers giving it the deed to the former Doreen Grace Brain Center in New Seabury, the organization was dealt a major setback when a boiler failure caused extensive water damage to the facility last Friday.

Merrill H. Blum, director of the association, estimates that damages to the uninsured three-story building will exceed $100,000, and that repairs will delay the opening of the planned integrated health facility for at least six months. A disaster restoration company has been working to clean and dry the site this week, and Mr. Blum said that he anticipates that all carpeting, linoleum, and paneling on the first floor will need to be removed and replaced.

The Mashpee Fire Department responded to the Seanest Drive building on Friday morning to assist in pumping out the six inches of water that had accumulated throughout the first floor.

“We lost the entire first floor. We were almost ready to begin offering services in the building, and then this happened. We feel positively terrible about the whole thing,” Mr. Blum said.

State Representative David T. Vieira (R-Falmouth) said he will be meeting today with Mr. Blum and members of the organization’s board of directors to brainstorm potential opportunities, including grant options, to secure funding needed to repair the damage.

The process of transferring ownership of the half-acre property and 10,228-square-foot building took more than a year and involved review and approval from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety counseling for veterans were scheduled to begin this week at the center, with yoga classes for veterans and their families set to begin later this month. On the day that the flood was discovered, Comcast was scheduled to install connections for the center’s computer and telephone operations, Mr. Blum said.

Mr. Blum was also scheduled to address the Mashpee Board of Selectmen Monday evening to discuss plans for the facility, but had to cancel his appearance due to the flooding incident.

When news of the property transfer broke in January, it was met with opposition by some New Seabury residents.
Vandalism is not even being considered as a cause of the incident, according to Mr. Blum, who confirmed that work was being done the week before on the boiler system and that there was also renovation work being done on the building’s four bathrooms.

“The boiler just let go. It was a $20 part that failed on us. It was a valve that is supposed to activate the heat, but the thermostats were set at 50 degrees, so it should not have been activated,” he said, noting that the boiler work was being done by a licensed plumber whom he declined to identify.

As the building was uninsured, the Nam Vets Association of the Cape & Islands is accepting tax-deductible donations to help defray the cost of repairing the flood damage. Donations can be sent to the organization at 569 Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601, or by contacting Mr. Blum at merrill@namvets.net.

Mr. Blum said there are already a group of Marines, who are members of the organization, that have begun to work on the restoration project.

“We eventually wanted to hire an architect and renovate the entire first floor, but not right away. Maybe it’s God’s will that this happened so that the renovation will occur sooner,” Mr. Blum said. 

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