Bluffton’s town hall soaked

 

BLUFFTON POLICE Chief Rick Skilliter, left, watches Wednesday as Chris Hicks of ServiceMaster and others clean up after a broken sprinkler head dumped hundreds of gallons of water into the Police Department offices and other parts of Bluffton’s town hall. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

BLUFFTON POLICE Chief Rick Skilliter, left, watches Wednesday as Chris Hicks of ServiceMaster and others clean up after a broken sprinkler head dumped hundreds of gallons of water into the Police Department offices and other parts of Bluffton’s town hall. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

BLUFFTON — Bluffton’s town hall has been closed indefinitely after a major water leak damaged the downtown building.

Village officials said a sprinkler head broke on the third floor late Tuesday. That sent a signal to the building’s fire pumping system that water was needed.

Water flowed from the leak for about 10 minutes before it was shut off. It was estimated that at least 1,500 gallons poured into the building.

“A significant water leak was discovered at 10:04 p.m. Tuesday night on the third floor of the Bluffton town hall,” Police Chief Rick Skilliter said in a statement. “Water has damaged all three floors and will require extensive cleanup efforts.”

An outside company, ServiceMaster, was on site by 1 a.m. Wednesday to begin the cleanup. Fans were set up to help dry out the building.

Because of water damage, telephone and Internet service in the town hall are not working. Bluffton residents can dial 911 to reach the police dispatcher.

No damage estimates were available Wednesday, and it was unknown when repairs will be completed.

“The damage to the third-floor surface will take some time to repair,” Skilliter said. “Anyone who planned on using the third floor for a celebration between now and the end of June is encouraged to begin finding alternative locations in case the room will be unusable.”

The town hall has its own fire pumping system. When the sprinkler head broke, the pump began sending water to the third floor.

The Fire Department received an automatic alarm when the sprinkler broke, and firefighters quickly arrived.

The town hall was built in 1887. In 2008, the village completed a $2.75 million refurbishing of the building.

Voters approved a ballot initiative in 2005 to hike the village income tax to help pay for the restoration.

The third floor houses the Bluffton Council meeting room, which is often rented out, and smaller meeting areas.

The Police Department is on the second floor, along with the mayor’s office.

Village utility and tax administration offices are on the ground floor.

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