Friday, April 23, 2004
No answers yet on Town Hall heating system problem
"Can the current system ever be made to work? Right now there are more questions than answers," says Lenny Johnson of the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee regarding the heating system at Town Hall. On Thursday, April 16, Johnson, a group of former and current Building Committee members, FinCom member David Trask, and Building Inspector Bob Koning met with Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie to map out a plan for dealing with the stunning news that the seven-year-old system may need a total rework that could cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We've known for a long time there were problems," explains Johnson. "We've made a number of attempts to resolve them by bringing contractors in to make repairs." Since Town Hall opened in 1997, the heating system has been so ineffective and poorly balanced that town employees in one part of the building worked in ski parkas while those in another area roasted.
The Long-Term Caps Committee recently added a $25,000 item to its list of capital purchases for FY05 to hire a consultant to review the heating system. The money will provide for an HVAC engineer to evaluate the system and make general recommendations on how to proceed. It will also allow for a bid package to be drawn up if major repairs are required. "There was a general consensus that someone qualified needs to spend some days going through the design and evaluating what's there," says Johnson.
The consultant will also be asked to render an opinion as to whether the town has legal recourse. What was installed appears not to be the original design. However, the original plan was modified at the request of the Building Committee as it became clear costs would overrun original expectations. The planned basement was eliminated, and the HVAC was redesigned to be less expensive. It is unclear whether the current heating installation matches the second design.
Was the design flawed? Did the installation diverge from the plan? Did the town err in trying to be penny-wise but ending up pound foolish? These are questions still to be resolved.
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