Following heated debate, board school tables Joy boiler resolution

Published Jun 16, 2017 at 12:30pm

Undersized heating boilers at the recently renovated Joy Elementary School have warmed up the objections by some Board of Education members over additional costs to replace them.

The board voted 7-1 Thursday night to table two change orders totaling $45,540 involving replacement of two boilers. Board members want more information about pricing and payment arrangements. Absent was member Jacqueline Favata.

Voting against the tabling was board Vice President Paul Hagerty, who argued the additional expense to cover the cost difference for larger boilers is still covered within the Joy project’s overall budget, from contingency funds allocated for unforeseen expenses. But he was countered by board member John Leonard, who said the costs should be borne by those who worked on the project and erred in the boiler sizing. In addition, board member Lawrence Posselt questioned the pricing for replacement boilers.

The Joy building resumed usage last September after being closed for a year-long renovation throughout the school that also included an expansion. A few months later it was determined that the boilers put in place were undersized and unable to hold temperatures in certain areas of the building.

The boiler sizing issue was due to a glitch in architectural and engineering calculations, school district officials said earlier this year.

Officials also said that costs of removing boilers and installing two larger ones were to be covered by the March Associates architectural firm that is used by the district, and the district’s only expense would be in the cost difference for larger boilers. One of the larger replacement boilers already has been installed.

However, Leonard questioned “why are we paying for something” when “we did not have any fault” for it. If the issue is the fault of persons such as project engineers or architects, they “need to eat it,” he said of the costs.

When told that the further expenses by the district would be covered within funds that already had been allocated and did not involve extra additional money, Leonard replied “but we are spending” more than the district should have to.

Hagerty, who chairs the board’s buildings and grounds committee, then emphasized “all we’re doing is making up the difference...in getting correct boilers,” regarding their higher price. Leonard, though, said project representatives were responsible for correctly designing the building and its specifications, adding they “need to pay.”

As the debate continued, Hagerty said such renovation projects have contingency funding set aside in case additional issues are discovered during the work.

However, Leonard said this was a different matter involving mistakes in design and planning. The district “should not be holding the bag for someone else’s mistake,” he added.

Posselt said he agreed with Leonard, and asked that the matter be held for more information. He commented it is “my belief...these numbers...are grossly overstated” regarding the cost difference for larger boilers.

Hagerty said the district has documents listing boiler prices and showing the “difference in cost of boilers.” But Posselt said they were “list prices,” commenting that contractors typically pay only about 40 to 50 percent of such amounts.

He asked that the data be reviewed further.

After the meeting, board President Paul Fitzpatrick said some “valid arguments were made.” The district will “look into it,” including seeking to clarify “who should be paying for it,” he said of the replacement boiler expenses.