Linden Hall being repaired after spate of burst pipes


Dorsey's Search Village Manager Anne Darrin thought she had seen the worst on Jan. 16 when she worked from morning until midnight trying to contain the damage from a broken pipe that flooded Linden Hall.

But as the village activities center was drying out and contractors were assessing repairs, a sprinkler ruptured Jan. 19 in the building's mechanical systems room. On that frigid evening, a weary Ms. Darrin rushed to the room and groped to shut off the water as it splashed into her face.

And then, three days later, another pipe burst.

As a result, Linden Hall will be closed for three weeks or longer while workers repair damages.

"The first one you could handle," Ms. Darrin said. "The second and third were like taking one step forward and two steps back."

Ms. Darrin estimates that the building, which opened in May 1992, sustained between $60,000 and $80,000 in damages, and that the village will lose about $15,000 in revenue -- about 9 percent of its $172,715 fiscal 1994 budget -- from canceled or relocated classes, business meetings and wedding receptions. The village board and two church groups also have been displaced.

Officials from the Columbia Association, which owns the building, and the nonprofit organization's insurer still are assessing damage to the 5,000-square-foot building.

"It was like a PT-109 boat in here," said Ms. Darrin, describing the first incident in which a fire sprinkler head "just exploded."

Ms. Darrin went to Linden Hall that frigid Sunday morning because an assistant had advised that a sprinkler cap had popped off. A drip in the hallway suddenly erupted into a deluge, filling the meeting room with about three inches of water and turning offices into swamps, she said.

"I couldn't believe the amount of black, oily water that came out," said Ms. Darrin, who was assisted in the damage control effort by village staff members, emergency services workers, a plumber and a Columbia Association maintenance supervisor. Contractors determined that a hatch left open in an insulated area above the ceiling probably caused the break, she said.

Three days later, Ms. Darrin said, she heard some "rumblings" and knew a pipe was going to burst. She called emergency services. Soon after the call, she heard a rush of water from the sprinkler in the mechanical room, which flooded the parking lot and the building's offices.

Linden Hall's ballroom and lobby had been spared, but on the following Saturday fire officials called Ms. Darrin at home to inform her that an indoor plumbing pipe had burst in a storage room. Water soaked the ballroom's walls and hardwood floor -- which might be salvageable -- and furniture in the storage room.

Village employees have worked 12- to 14-hour days since then mopping up water, drying moisture from wood surfaces, cleaning and dealing with contractors, Ms. Darrin said.

Workers have been painting, repairing pipes and fixing damaged drywall and molding. Losses include carpets, a computer, tables, a security system and video camera and a fire safety panel box.

Ms. Darrin said the hardest part of the ordeal has been accepting that the new building, which had been long-awaited by the community, has suffered considerable damage.

"We take such pride in Linden Hall and make sure everyone utilizes it to its full capacity," Ms. Darrin said. "When something like this happens, it knocks you back a couple of steps. Then we saw [the earthquake in] Los Angeles and realized we were very fortunate.

"My staff is a bunch of survivors and so am I. We'll be back, bigger than ever."

Ria Malloy, Dorsey's Search village board vice chairwoman, credits Ms. Darrin with minimizing damages through cleanup efforts, working toward a rapid restoration and rearranging functions to keep business running smoothly.

"She's done a lot to make Linden Hall and the village what it is," Ms. Malloy said. "She takes a lot of pride in it and it shows. She's been tirelessly trying to put things back together."

Maggie Brown, Columbia Association director of community services, which oversees village facilities, said the association intends to "restore the building to the condition it was and make it functional as soon as possible."

Dorsey's Search's other community facility, a smaller meeting room at the Dorsey Hall pool, also was closed for about four days in January because frozen pipes burst.

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