School repair talks delayed

WESTFIELD- A joint meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee and Legislative & Ordinance Committee was postponed last night because of the weather conditions across the region. The joint session was slated to discuss the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Green Repair grant program to replace roofs, windows and boilers in five school buildings with the city’s two consulting firms, P3 and Siemens USA, part of the green energy project designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce the footprint of the city’s energy consumption. Professional Project Partners, Inc. (P3) of Norwell, Mass. is the Owner Project Manager (OPM) for the school building improvement project.
The city has retained the services of three firms, two related to the MSBA Green Repair Program and the third hired to perform an energy audit of all municipal buildings. Tighe & Bond of Westfield was hired to provide engineering services for the Green Repair Program, while P3 was hired to serve as the owner’s project manager, a requirement of state grant-programs.
The city hired Siemens USA, which has offices throughout the state, to conduct a comprehensive energy audit of the city’s entire building inventory. The purpose of that energy audit is to assist the city in setting priorities for investment in upgrading buildings to increase energy efficiency and to cut energy consumption and costs.
The OPM is the primary conduit of information communication between the MSBA and the City and submits data as phases of the project are completed, to trigger the 62 percent state reimbursement to the city.
The council approved a $12 million bond for that green energy project last fall.That bond is related to a MSBA Green Repair Program to replace boilers in five school buildings and to replace the roof and windows of the Westfield Vocational Technical High School. The purpose of the Green Repair Program is to reduce energy consumption by replacing antiquated boilers and by upgrading the exterior envelope of school buildings.
Boilers are being installed under the MSBA Green Repair Program, at Westfield High School, Westfield Vocational Technical High School, Paper Mill, Highland and Southampton Road elementary schools.
The three firms have collaborated on the green energy project for the School Department and have recommended that the scope of work be expanded beyond what is approved through the MSBA program. The MSBA grant is limited in scope and cannot be used for ancillary work.
Siemens has recommended that the current steam heat system be replaced with a hot water system because it takes far less energy to heat water to 140 degrees than to bring it to 212 degrees, the boiling point needed to turn water into steam. That effort will require an extensive construction effort.
Mayor Daniel M. Knapik will submit a $17 million bond request to the City Council tonight for that ancillary work replace the piping system and the classroom heating and ventilation systems as well as for asbestos mitigation as the old pipes are removed and the new piping system installed.
That bond request will be referred to the Finance and L&O committees for further review by the consultants, who were slated to address the committees last night.
Knapik said yesterday that the boilers bids were opened Tuesday and came in $900,000 below the projected cost. Other subcontractor bids, for roofs and windows are being opened today.
“But we won’t know the entire cost of the project until around March 8, so there is still a fair amount of information we do not have yet,” Knapik said.
“I’m submitting the bond request today and it will be referred to committee, so we’ll know more about the final numbers before the council’s next meeting (on March 15).”
“A million dollars of this request is just to repair brick damage at the Voc-Tech school because water leaked off the roof and got behind the brick,” he said. “We have problems like that all over the city because we didn’t take care of roofs. Some of these funds will be used for repair of the Police Department and Public Works garage. We’re in a tough Catch 22 situation where we have to make a significant investment so we can move forward.”

Dan Moriarty can be reached at [email protected]


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