Chesterton Tribune



Library votes to replace original Thomas boiler

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Westchester Public Library Board members adopted a resolution Thursday declaring a boiler emergency to streamline the bidding process to replace the 39 year-old Thomas Library unit.

WPL director Phil Baugher has been reporting boiler problems in recent months but the situation is escalating, he said, and it could take as long as two weeks to repair the boiler at a possible cost of $30,000.

After having evaluated the options Baugher said it’s his recommendation the boiler be replaced as soon as possible, and he’s consultating with an HVAC professional to draft bid specifications.

By declaring an emergency, the time-consuming public bidding process can be accelerated.

The director hopes to have the bids submitted and ready for review at the Library Board’s March 13 meeting. He estimated actual boiler replacement might not be completed until June; steps have been taken to extend the boiler’s life until work can begin.

One of the bid specifications is asking for a quick-ship option, which could increase the price, but Baugher said the replacement boiler doesn’t have to be as large as the current unit.

WPL attorney Terry Hiestand said the law requires that all steel involved in the boiler replacement be made in the United States. Observed Baugher, “We’re a steelmaking community. I think we have an obligation to do that.”

After Hiestand described its benefits, the Library Board also agreed to require that vendors submit a bid bond to guarantee they will begin work and perform to contract specifications. President Nick Tilden wondered if that would inhibit bidding; Hiestand said it would encourage only serious bidders to participate.

Member Drew Rhed asked if Baugher had considered installing another type of heating system. Baugher said high efficiency was discussed but going to hot-water heat from the current steam unit would cost significantly more and take longer to install because the building would have to be retrofitted.

In other business Thursday, board members interviewed Rondi Wightman of Porter, who submitted her application to replace retiring member Claire Jolie. By a 7-0 consensus the board recommended Wightman to the Porter County Board of Commissioners, which makes the actual four-year appointment.

Other board seats are appointed by the Duneland School Board (three), Porter County Council, Westchester Township trustee and Township Board.



Posted 2/28/2014