Heat boiler breaks down at Warren Street

Back-up boiler being used, district quickly moves forward to replace heating system

Richard Peckham, executive principal/vice president of CSArch architects in Albany, discusses a Warren Street Elementary School boiler problem with the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education Thursday night at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Richard Peckham, executive principal/vice president of CSArch architects in Albany, discusses a Warren Street Elementary School boiler problem with the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education Thursday night at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Thursday night voted to pursue an emergency project utilizing existing capital funds to replace two old boilers at Warren Street Elementary School.

Richard Peckham, executive principal/vice president of CSArch architects of Albany, said the cost to replace them runs in the $150,000 to $200,000 range. He said the replacement project can use state building aid.

“We’ve run into a situation at Warren Street,” Facilities Committee Chairwoman Evamarie Mraz told the board.

Peckham said district Director of Facilities I David Wood contacted CSArch last week with a “problem.” The company is currently designing the district’s ongoing $39.6 million capital project. Peckham said the 27-year-old main boiler at Warren Street Elementary School recently experienced a mechanical failure and is currently inoperable. Officials said the back-up boiler at Warren Street Elementary is being utilized, although it is the same age.

The board heard existing capital funds can be used to fund replacement of the boilers.

“We’ve talked to the state Education Department about the process,” Peckham said. “It can be funded with some of the funds made available.”

The architect said his firm can prepare documents to send to the SED in the next week or two.

Meanwhile, the board Thursday night at Johnstown High School passed a resolution authorizing Superintendent Patricia Kilburn to obtain a scope of work for the replacement of both boilers at Warren Street Elementary School. She will also apply to the SED to undertake an emergency project using available funds from the districtwide capital project.

“The failure of the 27-year-old main boiler and the potential for failure of the 27-year-old back-up boiler necessitates replacement to preserve the property and to assure the health and safety of students and staff,” the resolution stated.

Warren Street Elementary School houses district students in grades four through six.

Wood said the normal situation is such that if one boiler fails, the other kicks in. He said if the backup fails while the district is attempting to secure the replacement boilers, emergency parts can be used. He assured the district will find a way to temporarily heat the building.

Kilburn was asked why the boiler replacements weren’t in the original capital project, responding: “They were projected to have longer use.”

Peckham said he expects a “rapid response” from SED on this situation, especially involving the health of younger children.

Once the go-ahead is received, he said CSArch can procure pre-manufactured boilers from a firm in South Carolina.

He said they should be easy to install and should arrive in Johnstown five to 10 days after being ordered.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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