Prospect considers using COVID-19 funds for upgrade to air systems

Prospect Town Hall. RA archive

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

PROSPECT — The town is exploring cost estimates to improve the air-handling systems in three town buildings and plans to use federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for it.

The town received $1.4 million of its total $2.8 million ARPA funds in June 2021 and $400,000 so far this year in August. The ARPA funds subcommittee sent out a survey earlier in the year to residents, with 886 responses collected from Feb. 1 through April 18. The most responses focused on using the funds to improve public health.

ARPA funds must be committed by 2024 and spent by 2026.

Town Council members received bids from a few companies responding to request for proposals to improve the air-handling systems in Town Hall, Prospect Senior Center and Prospect Library after the contractors did a walk-thru with Mayor Robert J. Chatfield and Town Council Chairman Jeffrey Slapikas.

Slapikas said Town Hall has a residential air system while the other two town buildings have commercial air systems.

Prospect Mayor Robert J. Chatfield. Republican-American archive

Two bids came in for the Senior Center. One was from F.F. Hitchcock Plumbing, Heating & Cooling of Cheshire for $195,000. This includes air balancing, upgrading high-efficiency air filters and UV protection. The other was from Arthur E. Olsen Co. Services of Southbury for $99,458, which also includes duct cleaning and UV light kits.

For the library, the bids came from SAV-MOR Cooling & Heating of Southington for $138,400, F.F. Hitchcock for $276,477 and Olsen Co. for $76,418.

Bids for Town Hall came from SAV-MOR for $39,700, Dependable Energy for $37,685, Olsen Co. for $41,957 and F.F. Hitchcock for $98,064.

Slapikas, who said he was familiar with all of the companies, recommended Olsen for the senior center and library, and Dependable Energy for Town Hall.

“I’m not saying we have to do these things. Every one of these numbers came in less than I had put a number on for each category,” Slapikas said. “I’d like to see us say yes and designate to get these things started because they’re fresh air. They need to be done.”

Slapikas said the town has been paying too much for “maintenance and fixing idiotic problems.”

Town officials weren’t in a rush to make a decision.

“If we hadn’t come across this money from the ARP funds, there was nothing planned in the budget for it,” Town Council member Kathryn Zandri said. “We weren’t going to do anything anyway, so it’s not as though everything is falling apart now.”

Council member Michael Palmerie said with Slapikas’ and Chatfield’s recommendations, he would like to see the town move forward at the next council meeting Nov. 1 after officials had a chance to review the bids and make a decision.