Chilmark School HVAC project nears completion

The work will occur over winter break, but questions remain for the generator. 

Chilmark School is nearing completion of HVAC upgrades. —MV Times

Upgrades to the Chilmark School HVAC system are nearing completion.

According to Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools business administrator Mark Friedman, the project is progressing on budget and ahead of schedule, with the expectation of finishing over winter break. 

On Tuesday, the Up-Island Regional School Committee unanimously approved the usage of up to $106,000 for a generator portion of the project. 

Friedman said a working group is trying to get a docking station into the school so it will be ready for a generator in the basement. “This is just the electrical infrastructure in the basement plus … an electrical cord that could plug into a very small emergency generator that could power the water pump, and maybe a few emergency lights in the building,” he said. 

This would cost $12,000 for the electrical work and $4,000 for the small generator. Friedman said there would still be $90,000 in warrant-article money left for the project.

The Up-Island Regional School District ratified an intermunicipal agreement two years ago in which Chilmark agreed to borrow the $950,000 needed to fill in the school’s funding gap in upgrading the HVAC system. The school district would pay back this amount with interest to the town over a 10-year period. Among other funding sources, the three up-Island towns signed an intermunicipal agreement in which West Tisbury and Aquinnah each covered 10 percent of the costs. However, the only bid that came in requested $700,000 for a new generator, and there was no appetite for that price from Chilmark. 

On Tuesday, committee members expressed concern over whether the small generator would be enough to meet the school’s needs. Friedman said the docking station would provide the capability to install different types of generators. 

“Not all of the details have been worked out,” Friedman said, adding that the old boiler system will be kept at Chilmark School as a backup system for the foreseeable future. 

Committee member Robert Lionette pointed out that the town also backed off from pursuing the larger generator because there were other facilities that could support the school — like the library or community center — if the electricity went out, not just because of the high costs. He suggested that maybe buying better equipment might be worth spending more of the allocated funds.

Friedman said this could be communicated to the working group, but the timing was important to get equipment and personnel ready by Christmas break. 

Salop suggested authorizing up to the $106,000 of the allocated funds for a generator that could meet as many needs as possible in the case of an emergency. 

“My concern … is that we buy this thing, and a year later we recognize we need something more than it,” Salop said. 

After further discussion, the committee unanimously approved Salop’s motion.