The Block Island Times

Town looks for Infrastructure Committee members

By Stephanie Turaj | Sep 22, 2013

The Town Council is establishing an Infrastructure Committee that will evaluate town-owned buildings, and is looking for volunteers with relevant expertise to serve on it.

The goal of this new group is to recommend any necessary improvements that may be needed for town buildings in order to maintain the physical integrity of the building and to possibly lower operation costs. Any individuals in town that have technology, electrical or construction experience are encouraged to apply.

“We’re hoping that by having a committee of qualified people, we’ll have a consistent way of having buildings assessed at their current state,” said Town Councilor Chris Warfel, who originally proposed the idea to the council.

Warfel explained to The Block Island Times that the idea for the committee “came about through observation — it appeared that the people who manage the buildings in town were ultimately responsible for the capital and operating budget [of those buildings].”

Warfel said that often the people who manage the buildings do not have the necessary qualifications to properly evaluate the buildings — such as experience in construction or contract work. “They were not hired to be contractors or to be engineers. They were hired for other purposes,” said Warfel.

Committee members will look at town buildings inside and out. For example, Warfel said, they will look at windows, doors, walls and the foundation. They will also look at the technology infrastructure of the buildings. Following inspection, the committee will develop a list of priorities about what needs to be done to each building.

Warfel said those priorities will be incorporated into the town’s capital budget. The capital budget is long-term; the council will put the capital improvement projects out to bond. Currently, many improvements to town buildings are part of the town’s yearly operating budget.

The Town Council issued the following notice about the new committee:

“The Town of New Shoreham needs your assistance. The Town Council will be establishing an Infrastructure Committee for the purpose of evaluating the current physical and technological state of the Town’s buildings. The Committee is to eventually estimate and recommend the necessary capital budget to make necessary improvements to maintain the physical integrity of the buildings and lower their cost of operation to the taxpayer.

If you are interested in helping the Town by participating on this committee please send a letter of interest and skills that you can provide to the Town Council at P.O. Drawer 220, Block Island. We believe the committee should be comprised of members with the following expertise:

a) Construction/General Contracting

b) Engineering

c) Mechanical trades

d) Electrical trades

e) Energy

f) Financial

The goal of this task is to provide the Town Council and the Town Manager with an understanding of the:

1) Discuss/Learn of any improvements in progress.

2) Building envelope condition and necessary immediate improvements, and three- and seven-year likely necessary expenditures

3) Mechanical (space, water heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems and necessary immediate improvements, and three- and seven-year likely necessary expenditures. Attention should be given to improvements that will reduce the cost of thermal energy generation and delivery.

4) Electrical (lighting, lighting control, electrical service) systems and necessary immediate improvements, and three- and seven-year likely necessary expenditures. Attention should be given to improvements that will reduce the cost of electrical energy utilization.

5) Water systems and necessary immediate improvements and three- and seven-year likely expenditures. Attention should be given to eliminating leaks, improving water quality, retention of runoff for landscaping needs if appropriate, and use of gray water if appropriate.

6) Integration of renewable energy technology focusing on solar electric and solar thermal and wind for installation within the next two years, and when mechanical and/or electrical systems are to be overhauled.

Once the initial assessment is completed of the Town’s Buildings, a report that conveys the current status of these buildings, and the three- and seven-year plans for upgrade and maintenance will be developed. The Finance Department will assist in the review of the budget and make suggestions as the proper and/or recommended way to finance the improvements.

Once the Initial Task report is completed and accepted, we suggest the committee meet every one or two months to monitor the improvements and provide progress reports. The committee will also be asked to provide an annual assessment on the progress of improvements and describe any newly uncovered opportunities by an annual assessment of these buildings.”

“Long-term assets need long-term planning,” said Warfel. He also said the committee will be responsible for updating the Town Manager and Town Council about town buildings.

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