WATERTOWN — The Town Council Facilities Subcommittee met with architects and contractors at 10 a.m. Monday, June 3, to discuss the capabilities of an emergency generator for the Heminway Municipal Center.
A 154-kilowatt generator has been installed in the building to help power the building during emergencies, but no one is sure what its exact capabilities are.
There was no input given on what the generator’s purpose should be. Instead, contractors and designers set up the emergency generator to handle emergency lights, voting machines and the Park and Recreation Department’s freezers and coolers.
Subcommittee Chairman Katherine Duplissie questioned why the generator was put in place without proper approval of the generator’s purposes.
“That conversation did not happen,” said Christopher Nardi, associate architect for the project.
Instead, members from Silver/Petrucelli and Associates, the architectural firm for the renovation project, listened to various needs for the generator and ordered its installation, and did not receive final approval from anyone.
Members of the subcommittee expressed disappointment that there was not an organized effort to detail the purposes of the generator before it was installed. Now the town will have to pay additional costs to re-implement the generator so it can handle additional tasks.
The subcommittee discussed what actual capabilities are needed of the emergency generator.
Some members said that the Public Works office should be connected to the generator so they can be operational during an emergency.
“Public Works, during an emergency, is not in the building,” Director of Public Works Roy Cavanaugh informed the subcommittee. During emergencies, the department is clearing streets or coordinating with the fire department and emergency responders. He said the PWD office does not need to be powered during emergencies.
Registrar of Voters Robert Porter said the registrar’s office needs power to allow same-day registration for Election Day. He said voting machines can be powered at different locations, but the office will need access to power.
The subcommittee also decided it was important that the generator power the building’s computer servers and climate control systems.
The main concern from the subcommittee was the generator’s ability to keep the building heated during the winter in case of power outages.
Contractors and planners assured the subcommittee that the generator can maintain the building above freezing, but parts of the building will only be about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Our goal is 40 [degrees] plus,” said Dean Petrucelli, vice president of Silver/Petrucelli and Associates.
The subcommittee was assured that the generator would keep pipes inside the building from freezing.
After the discussion, the subcommittee outlined the generator’s purposes to handle emergency lighting, heating the building, the voting registrar’s office, the Park and Recreation Department’s freezers and power the building’s computer servers and climate control.
In order to handle these changes, new lines will have to be installed in addition to a new control switch, panels and breakers.
Expanding the generator’s task capability will cost the town an estimated $106,000 or less. This will come out of the renovation project’s contingency fund, which currently holds more than $600,000.
“We need this to happen,” said John Kwasniewski, a contractor for the project.
He urged that a decision to update the generator be approved soon, because indecisiveness on updating the generator is delaying the renovation project’s electrical work.
The decision to approve the change order for the emergency generator will be brought before the Public Buildings Committee. Chairman of the Public Buildings Committee Robert Porter said that they would host a special meeting to approve the generator changes and move the renovation project forward.
Those seeking additional information on the facilities subcommittee meeting can view the meeting minutes at http://www.watertownct.org/Facilites-Sub.