Tolland Patch welcomes letters from readers of up to 500 words. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
On Feb. 15, the voters of Tolland will have an opportunity to approve a referendum authorizing the town to finance the complete renovation of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) in the Hicks Memorial Building (Town Hall). The projected cost of the renovation is $3.6 million.
The Town Council unanimously supports the project. In a vote on Dec. 14, the Council voted 5-2 to set the referendum. At present, the cost of financing is at historic lows and construction costs remain favorable. Two of the Councilors publicly voiced support of the project, but cast “no” votes based on their desire to see the vote held in May.
When deciding how to vote on the referendum, the voter should assess two issues. First, does the system need to be replaced? In 2008, after continuous HVAC system failures, the Tolland Energy Task Force—a volunteer citizen group—along with the engineering firms Consulting Energy Services and Lingren & Sharples and the architectural firm Tecton Architects, began studying the HVAC system. They concluded that complete replacement was clearly the preferable option.
Funds have been expended over the past number of years making piecemeal repairs to the 25-year-old system. The cost effectiveness of continuing down this path has ended.
In addition, the dated system fails to provide adequate air quality, which can only be remedied with a complete replacement.
The second issue the voter should assess is which type of replacement system should be used. The only viable options are a new oil fired conventional system or an environmentally friendly geothermal system.
The Energy Task Force recommended the geothermal system for a host of very compelling reasons. The geothermal system would have lower operating and maintenance costs compared to a traditional oil-fired system. It would also eliminate the need for purchasing oil for the town hall.
The difference in cost between the two systems is approximately $300,000. While dependant on the stability of oil prices, this difference would be made up in approximately five to eight years.
As the geothermal system does not use oil, greenhouse gas emissions would be greatly reduced. Additionally, the geothermal wells, which effectively replace the oil-fired boilers, have a life expectancy of 50 years compared to 25 years for the boilers.
More detailed information is available on the Town’s web site at: http://www.tolland.org/hickshvac
We encourage all voters to study the facts and make an informed choice.
The energy task force will be meeting with a number of organizations in town to answer any questions. If you would like them to speak to your group, you may call the Town Manager's office at 860-871-3600.
Most importantly, please vote on Tuesday, Feb. 15th.
Frederick Daniels (Chairman, Tolland Town Council) 860-872-1619
MaryAnn Delaney-Tuttle (Vice Chairperson, Tolland Town Council)
Jack Flynn (Tolland Town Council)
Francis Kennedy (Tolland Town Council)
Craig Nussbaum (Tolland Town Council)