Amsterdam OKs $527K upgrades at Public Safety Building


AMSTERDAM — The Common Council approved a $527,590 contract with Trane Air Handling on Tuesday that will complete the second half of energy performance improvements previously installed at the Public Safety Building.

The contract will involve the replacement of a rooftop cooling tower and five air handlers original to the nearly 50-year-old building that houses the city’s police, firefighters and court.

Police Chief John Thomas reported to the Common Council on Tuesday that Trane previously replaced five of the 10 air handlers throughout the building and related controls roughly 2 1/2 years ago with the other half of the components expected to be replaced the following year.

The work was necessary to address aging infrastructure that was inefficient and costly to repair. City officials previously estimated the total cost of the two-phase project would be covered through savings from reduced power consumption following full installation of the energy efficient HVAC system.

Following completion of the first half of the work, City Controller Matthew Agresta estimated the city already realized a reduction in power costs of around 30% at the Public Safety Building.

However, Thomas noted the anticipated cost of the project increased from original estimates obtained a couple of years earlier that anticipated the combined total cost of the work at around $800,000. The first phase of the project totaled roughly $480,000.

The price actually went up again from the beginning of this year when the city obtained a $498,668 quote from Trane for the phase two work until now when the price increased to $527,590.

Mayor Michael Cinquanti indicated the city requested the latest price quote after bonding for the project over the summer at the previously estimated cost. The city will make up the $28,922 difference using a portion of the $975,000 in federal coronavirus relief aid the city will receive this fiscal year through the American Rescue Plan Act.

“As we’re finding out with every project we go forward with, prices are increasing faster than we can keep up with,” Cinquanti said. “We didn’t want to go back to the bond market for that amount of money.”

The city has been making gradual plans for the federal funds citing uncertainty about eligible spending categories mixed with the timing of the receipt of the federal aid after the 2021-22 spending plan had already been completed.

Eligible spending categories include supporting public health response, addressing negative economic impacts, replacing public sector revenue loss, premium pay for essential workers, water and sewer infrastructure and broadband infrastructure. A fact sheet from the U.S. Department of the Treasury notes that restrictions apply to the eligible uses.

The Common Council in August awarded a $137,000 contract to General Control Systems Inc. to replace the outdated control and data monitoring systems currently serving the city’s wastewater treatment plant that will be paid for with ARPA funding.

Cinquanti said the city additionally plans to apply a portion of the funding toward the demolition of structurally unsound foreclosure properties and other infrastructure projects while continuing to await more detailed guidance on allowed spending options.

“We’re not going to jump into anything until we’re sure it’s an acceptable use of the money,” Cinquanti said. “We’re making decisions based on what we know and unfortunately what we know about how we can use the ARPA funding is still being decided by the federal government and the state.”

The mayor indicated further plans for the current federal aid installment will be identified and announced as the fiscal year progresses with full plans for the second $975,000 federal aid package the city will receive next year to be developed as part of the next budget process.

The upcoming work at the Public Safety Building will complete the HVAC upgrades across the entire facility with the project expected to be complete before the next cooling season.

“We’ve been able to address the major infrastructure needs of the building in the last two and a half years,” Cinquanti said. “The Public Safety Building will be in good shape.”

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