The Jones Library Trustees are seeking $105,000 for two units, one 500 KW unit @ $82,000 for the main downtown library and another 30 KW unit @ $23,000 for the tiny North Amherst branch plus another $20,000 for installation, for a grand total of $125,000.
Town Hall is slated for a $85,000 generator (a Town Manager request therefor a slam dunk), as key components of command and control are located there--namely the main wireless Internet routers, with emitters sitting atop street lights--and tied into their power--around Town Hall.
When the power went off the night of the storm the downtown wi-fi went down, although the town website did not go dark, as the server is located in Holyoke.
Wi-fi emitter Spring Street Parking lot (uses power from streetlight)
The nearby Police Station, where 911 dispatch is located, has a generator which fortunately did its critical job during the extended outage. The DPW was not as fortunate as their generator failed to function, but Mass Emergency Management Agency managed to get four rented generators delivered from a Springfield firm by Sunday late afternoon.
The DPW is requesting $15,000 to replace that ailing unit with a new one in the 30 KW range. Since DPW trucks were critical as first responders clearing the streets of snow and storm debris, and since gas pumps at the "the barn" require electricity to pump fuel, a working generator is--according to the itemized Capital Project Request--a "very high priority".
The generator at the Centennial Water Treatment Plant also doesn't work and is scheduled for replacement as part of a $4 million overhaul of the entire plant. On the day of the storm Centennial was off line and acting as a simple water tower to help keep pressure in the system.
A small booster pump (without generator back up) is the weak link. When that failed even light Sunday demand drew down water in the Centennial tank and, ominously, water pressure began to fall...
Luckily the Atkins Treatment Plant and Well #3 had working generators, otherwise town folks would have had to drink something other than water.
Thirteen years ago in the hysterical run up to the new Millennium, then Town Manager Barry Del Castilho became overly influenced by a Happy Valley volunteer "Y2K Citizens Committee" chaired by a UMass secretary who relied on the early day Internet for research pointing to a doomsday scenario.
Del Castilho tried to browbeat the Finance Committee into using emergency reserve funds to finance a $60,000 back up generator for the downtown Bangs Community Center. When that failed to spark enthusiasm, he talked the Select Board into placing the request as a stand alone article on the annual spring 1999 Town Meeting warrant.
In a rare rebuke for Del Castilho, the article fell short by a 20 vote margin, 81-61 (6/9/99) . Of course New Year's Day 2000 dawned without airplanes falling out of the sky, and the power in downtown Amherst never faltered...until the night of October 29, 2011.
Like Bangs Community Center, the Jones Library does not have a generator--but then neither do the adjacent Ann Whalen Apartments or Clark House, subsidized rental units managed by the Amherst Housing Authority with a high concentration of senior citizens.
Jones Library 11/1/11The North Amherst Library is not even worth considering because it's exceedingly small (under 1,000 square feet) and not ADA compliant. The Jones Library is large and centrally located but no more so than the Amherst Police Department or Town Hall.
Ann Whalen Apartments
When asked if Library officials have had a conversation with the Town Manager or other department heads to coordinate shared planning for emergencies like the October snowstorm, Library Director Sharon Sherry answered quietly, "No".
Safe to say the Joint Capital Planning Committee, or Town Meeting, will pull the plug on the Library's expensive wish. And if it's that important to them, they can always tap their $7.5 million endowment.
Amherst Bulletin Generator Column 1999 (back when I was a paid MSM journalist)