Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Infrastructure

"What does the Town of Longmeadow do for preventative maintenance on sewers and water mains?" I asked a former member of the Water and Sewer Commission back in 2003, during a Charter Commission meeting. The town was investigating whether the structure of government was helpful in meeting town needs or was causing problems. The answer we received, that there was no preventative maintenance, surprised me. Who would think that this gem of towns in western Massachusetts had a flaw so deep inside?

That was one problem. There were several others. The town ultimately voted to restructure government so that it would more easily attend to residents' needs. It is not perfect; indeed, there may be no such thing as an ideal fix. But we can see evidence of improvement in maintenance of town resources, especially in the process used for the proposal to solve the problem that is our high school.

In particular, residents need to know about "The Maintenance Factor" as Director of Public Works & School Building Committee member Michael Wrabel puts it.

What does he write of the existing HS building?
"Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems (MEP) and Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) are showing their age. Components have been out of service and have adverse affects on the building and the everyday users of the high school.

Steam lines that are in mechanical chases or tunnels under the building are degrading and leaking. Access for repair is difficult and often requires asbestos abatement work prior to the mechanical repair being completed.

In 2009 a broken steam line that crosses a courtyard from one addition to another ruptured and required partial replacement. Access to the courtyards for excavation is non-existent for excavation equipment and repairs were expensive to perform.

Plumbing drain lines that were installed in the 1950’s become blocked and at times requires breaking of a concrete floor for access to permit repairs.

Air handlers, blowers, heating and cooling coils, all parts of the HVAC system constantly require service because of their age in spite of routine preventive maintenance that is performed on them."

Further, he adds:

"Replacement of this tired and out-dated facility with a modern structure will enhance the ability of custodial and maintenance staff to perform routine duties.
Building energy efficiency will be increased and capital project spending will be decreased for the next 10-15 years if this project receives approval from the residents.

Longmeadow takes pride in the educational system and this upgrade to the cornerstone of the educational system will be a source of pride to residents for many years to come." (emphasis mine)

As someone (on the Housing Authority) who is keenly aware of residents' housing needs (and is working to improve the situation for those who are struggling financially), and as someone who has been aware of the ENTIRE TOWN's infrastructure needs for several years, I am in favor of the High School proposal. It will contribute to a much better Longmeadow, one that benefits all residents.
Rebecca M. Townsend

1 comment:

Rebecca M. Townsend said...

One of the key items in the SchematiC Design related to the maintenance issue is that there will be "Transition from deferred maintenance to proactive maintenance" (

There will be a maintenance trust established for the sole purpose of proactively maintaining the building. This would represent a dramatic change in the town's approach, and it is part of what MSBA requires.