Erving voters approve $125K to replace HVAC system

Staff Writer
Published: 5/9/2019 5:51:07 PM
Modified: 5/9/2019 5:50:57 PM

ERVING — In hopes of expediting the replacement of a broken HVAC system at the Senior Center, voters approved $125,000 from free cash at Wednesday’s special Town Meeting.

The approved financial article will allow the town to abandon the center’s current geothermal system, which is broken, 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, according to Town Administrator Bryan Smith. 

“We believe this $125,000 would be adequate to do that work and the system would operate better than what we had and at least as efficient as the geothermal was designed to be when the building was built,” said Selectboard Chair, Jacob Smith.

“The reason we were able to come up with the funds for the system was that we chose one methodology which was to replace the geothermal with the heat-pump system,” said Selectman Scott Bastarache. “As you heard us discuss earlier we haven’t figured out which heat pumps, how many handlers, how many condensers – we’re still looking at which one we should get, what brands – we’re still figuring that out.”

Resident Theresa Kolodziej asked the board how those involved could make such as mistake with the heating system.

“When this center was opened it was touted as a modern very efficient green building,” Kolodziej said. “How could the committee and the Selectboard and the people involved make such a giant mistake that in less than 10 years you have to replace the entire heating system at a cost of $125,000? How did this happen?” 

Bastarache said the construction phase is one of the largest mitigating factors in why the system failed, despite the fact he wasn’t on the board 10 years ago. He added that the role of the Selectboard is to solve problems when they are identified.

Selectman William Bembury said when experts were brought in to look at the system, they said about 50 percent of the open-loop geothermal systems built failed to operate at the designed efficiency.

Town Administrator Bryan Smith said there are two ways to procure the new system.

“If the project is less than $100,000 and the estimates are right at that point, the state has allowed the utility company, with is National Grid, to identify the contractor that will allow the town to go through an expedited procurement. It will shorten that window by weeks – it’s about four to six weeks,” Smith said. “If it’s over $100,000 and we have to go out to full procurement, you’re talking about anywhere from eight to 12 weeks.”

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.

The voters approved the article by a majority.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 263.


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