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Library, City Hall HVAC Improvements May Not Wait for 2013

An aging controls system that regulates the temperature in the two city buildings has come to the end of its lifespan, and now one has failed, prompting an earlier-than-hoped request to fund replacement.

A visit from George Wolwark, who is Muskego's maintenance man, at the budget meeting on Wednesday wasn't necessarily planned, but deteriorating conditions with the control systems that operate heating and cooling (HVAC) prompted an early request, and it may cost more than $100,000.

Wolwark explained that the controls for the library and city hall boilers and chillers are aging, and he had been working on a proposal to anticipate a failure. However, as a failure has already occurred with the library's controls, he told the Committee of the Whole that the request can't wait for 2013.

"Right now the library's system, which was installed in 2000, has failed, and it's now running in a default setting," he explained. While it's not 90 degrees nor is it 50 degrees inside the building, Wolwark explained that he is unable to control settings if the default settings fail.

A 'soft number' estimate from JM Brennan, which has serviced the buildings over the past 10 years came in at $108,000 he said, but added that he pressed them to give their best estimate so no one is surprised during the bidding process.

The committee directed Wolwark to go ahead to get hard quotes from JM Brennan and at least two others, to see what costs will be. While it will be cheaper just to address the library's situation, Wolwark advised that 'phasing in' work ultimately is more expensive than having both buildings serviced at the same time.

Future of technology is a concern

Alderman debated on whether the cost was a high-end estimate, using only the best system out there. Wolwark mentioned the system that was quoted is internet-based, and usually comes with an app that allows for remote diagnostics and controlling of building settings.

"Really, this is how things are going. It's like vehicles. I may not want onboard readings of my tire pressure, but it's going to be there whether I want it or not," he said. "The 'bells and whistles' are often standard."

Some aldermen, like Rob Wolfe, expressed concern over the lifespan of a new system.

"The other one lasted 10 or 12 years, so do we have any way of ensuring that we're not having to replace this all again so soon?" he asked.

The systems that are in place now run on Windows 2000 and a dial-up connection, and Wolwark explained that he's had to use laptops that still operate under that system to monitor the library's and city hall's HVAC settings. He told Wolfe and the committee that any quotes would have to address the ability to upgrade systems without having to completely replace them.

None of the boilers or chillers in the buildings will need replacing anytime soon, he said, adding "the boilers will likely outlive us."

However, he also added that it's tough to predict what the future of information technology will bring.

Wolwark will take the quotes he receives to the Finance committee for their approval and recommendations before the matter returns to council.

Deanna Kuhn Knasinski August 27, 2012 at 05:18 PM
The library is always cold.
Denise Konkol (Editor) August 27, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Stay tuned...if the default fails, you may be enjoying record high temps. Interesting to note there are a total of 82 thermostats between city hall and the library.

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