The Board of Selectmen at its most recent meeting unanimously approved three expenditures including $9,281.10 for emergency repairs to the boiler at Town Hall, $15,099.10 to refurbish 10 snow plows, and $182,326 for the purchase of a new ambulance.
Bill Oestmann, superintendent of buildings, told the board during its Dec. 5 meeting that the boiler at Town Hall developed a problem while he was away on vacation a couple of weeks earlier.
“I guess it got cold that week and the heat was not responding very well in Town Hall,” Oestmann said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. ”So, the mechanical company came down and found that there were some issues related to the valves. Unfortunately, it is a complicated system and a lot of it is computer controlled—so we had to have the management folks who monitor our building, on the software side, came down to make sure the programming was right and that the components were talking properly to each other. There were a few issues there. And while they were here, they discovered that additional work was needed in order to get us through the winter.”
Oestmann said it took technicians some time to diagnose the problem.
“Some of the issues were minor—but some were a little more involved,” he said, adding that a representative for the manufacturer of the valves “also came down to make sure the valves were working properly—and we found a little bit of an issue.”
Oestmann said part of the problem is that “some of these valves are so sensitive that it doesn’t take much to block them up.” He added, however, that following the diagnosis, “we now know how to maintain them a little better.”
Selectman Nick Williams, however, expressed disappointment that there was a problem so soon with the new boiler, which was installed when the Town Hall was renovated last year.
“So, Bill, work with me here a little bit,” Willaims said. “One of the reasons we’re sitting here in a new Town Hall is because the old Town Hall boiler, which was built in 1932, you literally had to have a guy come in every day and bang here and bang there, in order to [get it going]. So, why are we having this problem in a new Town Hall, with a new boiler and new lines, and is there any exposure here on the part of the manufacturer or service provider?”
Oestmann replied that “given that it is a new building and new technology, and everything is high efficient, it’s more involved as a system—there’s a lot more moving parts,” at which point Williams interrupted and said, “But what’s the warranty on this system? If I buy a TV, I get a warranty with it—in fact I could get an extended warranty…”
Oestmann said the boiler equipment has a one year warranty “and we are documenting everything.” He said “the general contractor is on notice as to what is happening.”
“As you know there’s many players involved in this—builders, architects, mechanical folks, manufacturers,” Oestmann said.
“I suggest we keep the town’s attorney in the loop on this,” Williams said.
Oestmann said he had already contacted the town’s attorney “to make sure everything is being properly documented.”
Selectman Kit Devereaux said she wanted some reassurance that the repairs are all done and that the system is working properly.
“So, we put in new valves and new oil lines… is that going to do it?” Devereaux asked.
“So far it has been working very well… it has not shut down on us… and the company is monitoring it,” Oestmann replied.
In other matters, the board also approved a request from the Department of Public Works to enter into a contract with Fleet Image for $15,099.10 to refurbish (sandblast, weld, prime and paint) 10 snow plows.
Tiger Mann, director of public works, said the company that will do the work, Fleet Image, “is well recommended by other municipalities throughout the state.” He said they will strip the plows down, weld any cracks found, then prime and paint.
“We got a bid price of $1509.91 per plow,” Mann said, adding that the company will take only three to four plows out of service at a time, so that the town still has enough plows in the event of a snow storm.
Mann said the plows, which cost about $8,000 to $10,000 each, generally last about 10 years, “but with this [work] we hope to extend the life to 20 years.”
Devereaux said she wanted to know how many times the plows need to be refurbished during their lifetime, to which Mann said, “Once per the lifetime of each plow.”
The board also unanimously approved a request from the Emergency Medical Services Commission, New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Department of Public Works to enter into a contract with American Emergency Vehicles for $182,326 for the purchase of a new ambulance.
Mann explained that this request is already funded in the 2017-2018 town budget. He said the ambulance, a 2009 Ford Type III, is one of three used by the ambulance corps.
He added that the purchase price could be reduced by $4,500 pending a potential trade-in of the old ambulance—provided that the police department has no need for the old one.