Williamsburg selectmen debate Dunphy School HVAC
WILLIAMSBURG — At the Williamsburg Board of Selectmen meeting on July 15, the council discussed repair of the HVAC system at the Anne T. Dunphy School and Massachusetts Department of Transportation project on Mountain Street.
After Stacey Jenkins, principal of Anne T. Dunphy’s school, said she hoped to use funds from the U.S. Rescue Plan Act to replace the HVAC units, city administrator Nick Caccamo said he feared the funds would not qualify. and that the city had not yet received them.
“I am concerned that the city has not yet received the funds and it is not clear that an HVAC system will fall under those guidelines. Infrastructure should be largely related to water, infrastructure and broadband,” he said.
As for the issues with the school’s HVAC system, Jenkins said the air conditioning in the school’s B wing isn’t working.
“At the moment the B wing is not functioning so there is no air conditioning, but the ventilation is still working so I am concerned that will come in the fall. I’m afraid that even if we all agree and start bidding today, the project won’t be finished before school starts,” she said.
She said she wanted to fix the HVAC system at the beginning of the school year.
“We need a functioning HVAC system, when the school ended, it wasn’t working in that wing and it was 87 degrees in those rooms. The people were in a good mood because the school ended, but it won’t be when the school starts,” Jenkins said.
One way Jenkins said the system could be fixed sooner was to declare the problem an emergency.
“Because it involves schools and HVAC, there are some places that use it as an emergency form to get it done for school. Places manage to write a letter and waive the bidding process. Athol has done that and they have $500,000 in HVAC work done because of this,” she said.
The board ultimately took no action on the HVAC system and agreed to discuss it further after meeting Jamrog HVAC.
After discussing the HVAC repairs, the board then engaged with residents of Mountain Street and surrounding neighborhoods who oppose the alternative MassDOT selected to repair the street.
Board chairman Dave Mathers said he spoke with representatives from MassDOT and said the alternative residents who were in favor had already been rejected, but they could pursue an aberration.
“Alternative 4 actually has a 25 percent design handed over to Boston and the folks at Complete Streets turned it down because of safety concerns for cyclists and pedestrians. You could argue for variance, but you have to convince them and me that it’s safer.” to keep the road as wide as to fix it properly,” he said.
One of the concerns Mathers received from several residents was that the road isn’t wide enough for cyclists and motorists to coexist safely.
“I have countless people commuting there every day, complaining about the cyclists and how unsafe it is to drive over the centerline to pass. They are concerned because if you force someone to drive across the center line and if they have an accident, they are at fault for crossing the road,” he said.
One resident said she was in favor of keeping Mountain Street as it is.
“We prefer to keep Mountain Street, Mountain Street; it becomes a highway. The money is important, but we need to work together to find another way to raise this money. I’d rather see it stay as it is than get it resolved,” she said.
If the project were shelved or canceled, Mathers said it would cost at least $3 million to fix it through a contractor.
“Every year that we wait, we spend another $10,000 on patchwork. If we were doing the project ourselves, we would have to put in an offer and it would cost about $3 million to do the project with a contractor, maybe more and it should go back to taxpayers,” he said.
In the end, the board agreed to send a letter to MassDOT asking them to reconsider Alternative 4 for the project.