Letter to the Editor: Be Educated Voters on Hicks Geothermal HVAC System

A letter from members of the Town Council encouraging residents to be as educated as they can before voting on whether to approve the geothermal HVAC replacement at Hicks.

Tolland Patch welcomes letters from readers of up to 500 words. Send them to renee.canada@patch.com 

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.


Submitted by:  

   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)

Jane Pasini February 04, 2011 at 11:26 PM
I've sat through the Energy Task Force's presentation and I hope most of you reading this get the chance to do the same. It is in our best interest to vote YES on 2/15. We need the HVAC upgrade and it makes the most sense to put in the geothermal system. Please follow the lead of the the Energy Task Force and the recommendations of our Town Council and vote YES so that this referendum passes. We will be paying either way and this is the best use of our money.
Bob Rubino February 06, 2011 at 02:36 PM
On Tuesday, February 15, I will be voting YES in support of the proposed Geothermal HVAC renovation at the Hicks Municipal Building. I will be doing so for several reasons: (1) Though essentially an electric heat pump based system, Geothermal's greatest benefit to the Town is that it offers greater stability in forecasting cost than it does the wild oscillations in #2 heating oil pricing (just look at what's going on in the mid-East right now); (2) The well-lifetime of this technically mature technology is twice that of a conventional oil-fired system offering greater return-on-investment; (3) It offers Tolland an opportunity to contribute to our nation's national and financial security by reducing import of oil (export of US dollars) and finally; (4) it is the 'long-view' smart money thing to do. Please join me on Tuesday in voting YES. Bob Rubino Weigold Road, Tolland
Larry Gramling February 06, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Having spent time listening to, and reading in the printed media, the various arguments for and against the referendum, this one is a no-brainer: vote YES! Any resident who wants to truly control future spending as well as taking a forward-looking view of the Town. The bi-partisan Energy Task Force's conclusion will result in long-run real dollar savings for all town residents and I am looking forward to the town overwhelmingly coming out on Feb. 15 and voting to support this wonderful opportunity for the current and future residents of Tolland!
MaryAnn February 06, 2011 at 06:22 PM
Some people have said they support this project, but won't vote for it on Feb 15th. I just don't understand how people can be so stubborn and myopic! We needed to set the referendum for February in order to plan our capital budget for next year and the years to come. It could not wait til May and coem to a vote with the budget because then we would not have done our due diligence in planning for the budget. The HVAC project is the right way to solve the heating and ventilation problem at the Town Hall complex. Any other way is short sighted and fiscally irresponsible. VOTE YES on Feb 15th and tell your neighbors to vote YES too. Mary Ann Delaney Tuttle 195 Old Post Rd., Tolland
Diane Clokey February 07, 2011 at 08:57 PM
I hope residents will read up on this to fully understand that this geothermal option rises head ans shoulders above the rest of the possible solutions to HVAC problem --- which needs to be addressed NOW. Natural gas, which keeps being raised, is virtually unworkable (see the town website for detail). I also believe it is a solution which fits this community. Investing in the Hicks Building with a responsible HVAC solution allows us to honor our history and be a forward-looking, fiscally- responsible community. Join me in voting YES on February 15th.


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