The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 27, 2009

Repairs needed after Highland Building boiler fails

The boiler in the Highland Building has failed, and in order to deal with this situation, the Highland Stabilization Committee has called upon Town Administrator Tim Goddard to recommend emergency measures. Fire protection in the building cannot operate if temperatures drop below freezing, and the building itself requires some heat in order to remain viable. Without a quorum to vote on emergency stabilization at their meeting on November 19, the Highland Stabilization Committee recommended to Goddard, who was present, that appropriate emergency action be taken to stabilize the heat in the building on an interim basis.

Three temporary options were discussed:

• Drain the boiler and mothball the building for the time being. This option is less viable than others because the building’s fire protection cannot operate in below freezing temperatures.

• Rent a portable gas-fired boiler. An HVAC company, Crossfield Engineering, will go through the building with Carlisle School Building and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery to recommend an interim strategy for rental of a temporary boiler. If the estimate is under $25,000, it is not a public bid and can be approved by the committee and by Goddard, who is also the town’s procurement officer.

Goddard has made an emergency waiver request to the state agency responsible for public construction (the Division of Capital Asset Management) to get some flexibility with bidding timing. Crossfield Engineering will also estimate a replacement price for the current boiler.

• Committee member Bob Stone suggested the use of electric unit heaters at about $400 each as a more cost-effective interim solution. Building Inspector John Luther has suggested this, too. Committee member Alan Carpenito suggested getting three quotes, which will be required for any solution costing between $10,000 and $25,000.

John Ballantine noted that the money would come out of the stabilization budget, but since it is an emergency need, the committee has control over the disbursement of the funds.

A plan for a permanent gas-fired boiler to cover the building’s needs will be part of the eventual design for future use.

When contacted for an update on November 23, Goddard and Flannery said that HVAC contractors have since inspected the building and are preparing price quotes for the following alternatives: one temporary gas-fired unit for each floor of the building; one temporary electric heater for each floor; replacing the present steam boiler with the same type; or the long-term solution of installing a high-efficiency condensing boiler. At the moment, the committee is favoring a temporary solution until the use and layout of the building is determined, so as to be sure to install something of the appropriate size at the best cost they can find.

Request to merge committees

The boiler emergency highlighted a concern over the Highland committees’ ability to operate efficiently and make decisions quickly. The Selectmen have created two separate committees, Highland Stabilization and Highland Future, but they are really functioning as one.

Votes cannot be taken unless there is a quorum, but because the separate committees are small, a quorum is not always present for each. Present at this meeting were: Bob Stone, Bob Hilton, Peter Scavongelli and John Ballantine. Alan Carpenito arrived later and has not yet been sworn in. Nathan Brown was absent. Scavongelli, Stone, Carpenito and Brown serve on the stabilization committee, which lacked a quorum for this meeting. The committee had to vote on issues contingent upon Carpenito’s swearing in. Brown, Scavongelli, Hinton and Ballantine serve on the committee studying future uses. The two committees will recommend to the Selectmen that they become one, with two separate charges.

Fire protection and preservation

There is a general understanding that because the adjacent Carlisle School is installing a cistern as part of the planned school renovations and the Highland Building will require one, it makes sense to use the school cistern for both facilities. The Highland stabilization planning will weigh alternate systems against the shared cistern costs and additional costs for a temporary water source until a shared system becomes available.

Hilton advocated for painting and shingling the building’s exterior as part of preservation and stablilization and argued that these should be considered under envelope repair. He asked, “To what extent can we keep the appearance of the building attractive?”

The architect, replied Stone, should make recommendations on how to stabilize the building completely, with the estimate that it could be sitting empty for up to four or five years.

Highland Future Committee to meet with town groups

The committee agreed that basic constant use, such as Recreation Commission or other programmed activities, should form the backbone of community use. The committee will investigate town department, general community, and private uses for the building, as well as revenue-generating uses that will fund maintenance and operational costs.

The committee discussed formulating a questionnaire to determine and prioritize interested groups and their needs. The committee will request to be put on agendas for various town committees, including the Recreation Commission, Council on Aging, Carlisle School Committee and administration, School Building Committee and Gleason Library.

A discussion of several usage issues followed. It was decided that including affordable apartment units for new teachers in the building would not be viable, because teachers will only be able to use the apartments for one or two years before they exceeded the required income level. Carpenito added that it is unlikely that the town would want to “go into the apartment business” unless the units were affordable and contributing to the town’s percentage of affordable housing as required under state law Chapter 40B.

Installing a kitchen will require Board of Health approvals and licensing. However, it was felt it would make the building appealing to a variety of users.

Artists (with CORI background checks) wishing to have studios, private apartment space, and private groups who would rent space might all generate income for the property. Flannery was suggested as building manager. It will be necessary to estimate the costs of operation and maintenance. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito