Erving​​​​​​ Special Town Meeting to vote on funding HVAC system

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2019 6:11:24 PM

ERVING — A special Town Meeting will be held before the annual June meeting for one financial article – the HVAC system at the Senior and Community Center on Wednesday, May 8.

Voters will determine whether to appropriate a sum of $125,000 for the replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system from free cash.

Selectboard Chair Scott Bastarache said for around the same amount of money as it would cost to create a closed loop geothermal system, a compressed air system will be installed instead.

“Our goal is to retrofit and go with this new system — forced air —  utilizing the same structure and putting in the condensers and the other apparatus above ground, accessible and easy to fix,” said Bastarache. “One of the reasons we are doing this as soon as possible is that we do not have a cooling system currently.”

According to Town Administrator Bryan Smith, there have been issues with the geothermal system at the senior center almost as long as the building has been at 1 Care Drive.

In April, the building’s architect and a geothermal specialist were consulted about the system, to find that sand had entered the well and was drawn into the system. The damage was reported in the intake line, primary circulation pump and associated equipment.

The current system in place is an open-loop system and the Selectboard had three options on the table, according to Smith.

In order to repair the current system and turn it into a closed-loop system, it would require drilling two new wells, installing new lines under the parking lot and sidewalk, and the repair of the circulation equipment. While this option would reduce the chances of sand getting into the system again, it is not guaranteed and it is estimated to cost $100,000, according to Smith.

If repairs were made to the geothermal system, the senior center would have a single source for heating and cooling. Meaning, if there were another problem in the future and the system needed to be shut down, there would be the chance of losing heating and cooling again.

The second is to create a closed-loop geothermal system which was estimated at $100,000, and would require the town to do its own excavation work and drill new wells.

The third option, the one proposed for voters, is to abandon the geothermal system and transition to an air-source heat pump system which would use multiple condensers to support seven zones in the building.

By using a heat-pump system, the equipment would be above ground — providing system resiliency and easy access. 

The town is also pursuing grant and utility rebates available for the project.

“Many of them are reimbursable funding sources which means the town would have to fund the work in advance and apply for reimbursement,” according to the warrant article.

Smith said the senior center is at the mercy of the temperature and may need to close if the temperatures get too high without a cooling system in place.

He said the Selectboard supports the compressed-air system because they believe it will be a more permanent solution.

“We don’t want to give a recommendation that doesn’t turn into the solution, and not work the way it was intended,” Smith said. “There was a lot of thought that was put into this and we take the matter very seriously.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at or 413-772-0261 ext. 263.

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