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Hawley HVAC Project Comes In $340K Under Budget



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First Selectman Dan Rosenthal reported to the Board of Finance on August 24 that the Hawley HVAC project is expected to come in $340,000 under budget.

The current plan is to use the leftover funding for an add alternate, allowing chillers to be installed in the ‘97 wing that were originally cut earlier in the project time line.

Rosenthal said school Facilities Director John Barlow will be “sharpening his pencil” and looking for any available rebates or grants to help cover the full cost of the chillers.

“It’s looking pretty good,” said Rosenthal.

Rosenthal also commended the Public Buildings and Site Commission and Downes Construction Company for their efforts on the project and shepherding it in under budget.

“They’ve done a great job,” said Rosenthal.

Board of Finance Chairman John Madzula commended them as well for bringing the project in under budget and on time.

The Hawley School project recently passed inspections by the Fire Marshal, and the air conditioning is currently up and running. Students were able to return to school on time August 30.

The under budget news was welcome considering a nearly year-long problem acquiring a switchgear.

When the vital piece of the school’s electrical system hadn’t arrived by late July, it threatened to cost the town $50,000 and would have caused the school to open without air conditioning in certain sections of the building.

A switchgear is part of an electrical system that includes fuses and circuit breakers and allows regulation of the power system. Barlow said that the contractors were on the verge of doing a “backfeed,” which would have allowed them to test different parts of the new HVAC system without the switchgear, when the switchgear “just showed up” weeks before the town was told it would arrive.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said the town “got lucky” that the switchgear arrived when it did.

The project was authorized for $8 million by voters in 2021. The town used $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan money to help cover the cost.

The project was planned with a large contingency due to the fact that Hawley School is an “older building” and there were concerns there may be an expensive abatement or something else costly that was not foreseen before work began.

Now that the project is wrapping up, that money can be used towards adding alternates, such as replacing some cooling units in the ‘97 addition that were in the original HVAC project plans but were removed when bids came in higher than expected. The air conditioners in that section are nearing the end of their 25- to 30-year life expectancy.

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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