September 23 2014

Town Meeting Approves Temporary Boiler Fix

By: Rich Hosford


After some debate Monday night, Burlington Town Meeting voted on an amended warrant article to repair a boiler in a town-owned building used by a local school and to fund a study to determine if the heating system will need to be replaced.



Town Administrator John Petrin and Department of Public Works Director John Sanchez spoke on a warrant article, put forward by the board of selectmen, to appropriate $500,000 to address an issue with the heating boilers at Mount Hope School.


Sanchez said a recent evaluation of the boiler system showed it is running inefficiently. He also said the boilers are 55 years old and the normal life expectancy of those types of systems is normally about 50 years.


Sanchez said the funds would be used for two purposes. About $50,000 would be used on a temporary fix of one or two boilers to get the school through this upcoming winter. The rest of the money would be used to get engineering evaluation on the boilers and to price and purchase a new system. He said his hope is that a new system could be in place before the winter of 2015.


“We need a fix for this winter but it does not make sense for the town to continually fix a 55-year-old boilers,” Sanchez said. “We may get away with fixing one out of two boilers for this winter but the goal is to get the money tonight to stat engineering a long-term fix right away.”


The Mount Hope School is a town-owned building with a lease to Mount Hope through 2030 (that will likely be extended another 10 years). Under the terms of the lease the town is responsible for repairing or replacing equipment in need of major repairs.


Some Town Meeting members suggested the town should further evaluate the current system to see how long it may last before spending nearly half a million dollars on a repair. There was also a suggestion by a couple of members that the push to replace the boilers now likely came from Mount Hope School’s insurance company. Sanchez denied that claim, stating Mount Hope contacted the town to repair the boilers and it was only after an evaluation by the town it was decided the boilers should be replaced.


However, many Town Meeting members stated they thought the town was moving too quickly on such a major expenditure and that they would like to get more information. There was an amendment on the article to approve $50,000 for a fix to get the school through the winter with the idea the town would come back at a later date with more information on the need for a replacement. Town Meeting member Monte Pearson suggested a compromise of $90,000 to repair a boiler and to fund engineering evaluation of the system.


Selectman Christopher Hartling pushed the members to approve the amendment to get the project started. He referenced a recent $1.8 renovation project that Mount Hope paid for in the town-owned building.


“I ask you keep in mind this is a partnership and the tenant is clearly keeping up with their end of the bargain and I hope you will too,” he said.


Town Meeting did approve the $90,000 version of the warrant article. 

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