Committees endorse $10M energy bond

WESTFIELD – Two City Council committees voted last night to give a positive recommendation for the approval of a $10 million bond for the next phase of the city’s energy conservation program.
Members of the Legislative & Ordinance Committee and Finance Committee discussed the scope of work proposed in the next phase of the program designed to reduce energy consumption with representatives of Siemens, the primary contractor, and Tighe & Bond.
Dan Pallotta of P3, the project manager for the $12 million Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Green Energy program; Roland Butzke of Siemens, which the city hired to increase energy efficiency and reduce the municipal energy footprint; and Rebecca Sherer of Tight & Bond, the city’s engineering consultant for the MSBA Green Energy grant program, linked the $12 million Green Energy project with the work completed through the proposed $17 million bond. Pallotta said that $14 million of that bond was actually expended because contracts bids were lower that originally projected.
The Energy Management Services (EMS) program dovetails with a number of other projects, principally funded through Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Green Energy grants to replace roofs, windows and boilers in school buildings across the city. The city has completed $12 million in improvements to schools under the MSBA program that provides reimbursements of more than 60 percent to the city.
The City Council approved $17 million for Phase 1-A of the EMS program
The EMS program has funded similar work in other municipal buildings including the Police, Fire and Public Works departments.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik has requested the City Council to approve a $10 million bond for Phase 1-B of the EMS program that includes work at City Hall, Westfield High School and Westfield Vocational Technical High School that was not included, or not eligible, for the MSBA Green Energy program or the EMS Phase 1-A.
Energy improvements were made at the two school buildings, resulting in substantial reductions in energy consumption, but further controls, sensors and ventilation systems need to be installed to maximize the benefits of the new hot-water heating that replaced the boilers originally installed in those buildings.
The City Hall work will encompass installation of a hot-water heating system, new lights, revamping the electrical system, air conditioning, American With Disabilities (ADA) compliance, parking lot expansion and repaving and environmental remediation for asbestos.
Purchasing Director Tammy Tefft said that much of the work will be coordinated with the summer school recess because many of the 85 City Hall employees will be relocated, temporarily, to the South Middle School while their offices are gutted and improvements completed.
At-large Councilor David A. Flaherty asked the contractors to explain the huge investment needed at City Hall under Phase 1-B of the EMS project.
“You’re inheriting decades of deferred maintenance,” Butzke said.
The committees will request a report from Knapik and the city’s financial officers to explain the financial impact of the bond, $800,000 a year, on the city budget.

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