WESTFIELD – The City Council approved the first reading of a bond requested to replace energy-inefficient equipment at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant last week after elements of the bond were eliminated.
The Council’s Finance Committee had initiated its review of the original $1,850,000 bond request with Water Resource Department Superintendent Dave Billips prior to the council’s Oct. 2 session and had requested that several energy management items be removed because the committee felt they could be accomplished within the city government structure.
Ward 5 Councilor Robert A. Paul, Sr., a Finance Committee member and former member of the Municipal Light Board, suggested that the installation of the energy management systems could be accomplished with assistance by the Westfield Gas & Electric Department, which has become the state model for municipal utility energy conservation programs.
Billips submitted a reviewed bond request of $1,477,000 which will be used to replace over-sized Turblex Blowers used in the sewerage plant treatment process to aerate effluent in the treatment tanks. Billips said the blowers were installed as part of the last plant expansion by the construction contractor and are too large for the city’s facility.
The present Turblex Blowers have a resale value of about $500,00o, income which will be applied toward the bond.
Billips said that the energy conservation estimate of a 30 percent reduction in electrical consumption, provided by Siemens, is conservative and that replacement of the blowers and other equipment will result in energy conservation that will actually be higher and that those savings will also be applied to repaying the bond.
In other business, the Finance Committee gave a 3-0 positive recommendation to accepting a $61,200 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Homeland Security grant for improvements to the Broad Street fire headquarters.
That grant requires a 10 percent local match, funding which Fire Chief Mary Regan said will have to come from her annual budget.
“My budget is very, very tight,” Regan said. “I may be able to squeeze it out of the budget, but at this stage (of the fiscal year) it will be difficult.”
The fiscal year began July 1, so only the first quarter has passed.”
Regan said that she plans to use funds in the department’s services and supply accounts and from the ambulance reserve account to meet the local match requirement, but that she may request an appropriation later in the year if those accounts run short.
The funds will be used to install a sprinkler system in the two-story building with heat detectors connected to the building’s alarm system.
Keefe introduced the grant with the Finance Committee’s positive recommendation to accept, but with the caveat that Chief Regan “may come back to us for a minor appropriation down the road.”