Wildwood is limping through the winter with only one functional boiler
Yesterday's disclosure by Town/Schools Facilities Director Ron Bonohowicz at the Joint Capital Planning Committee meeting reminded me of those stories you read a generation or two later about how close we came to a major catastrophe and only by shear luck survived.
Three years ago Town Meeting approved spending $400,000 for two new boilers at Wildwood Elementary School that were requiring constant maintenance. The two boilers were originally installed at time of construction circa 1970.
But the new boilers were never installed because the Mass School Building Authority invited the town to do a $1 million study to help lead to a new or renovated elementary school with 60% state funding.
The town repurposed the $400K boiler expenditure to cover our share of the Wildwood school feasibility study, that has now grown into a $65+ million twin schools under one roof scenario.
Mr. Bohonowicz is requesting $20,000 to repair one of the boilers that is now shut down due to significant problems that has kept it idle all winter.
The dead boiler is somewhat redundant, but was designed to assist the other boiler during a sustained cold stretch, which is certainly not uncommon in New England.
Fortunately the Arctic stretch we had in mid-February that burst pipes all over town occurred over a long weekend when Wildwood only needed minimum heating (55 degrees) rather than operational temperatures (68-72 degrees).
Failure of the second boiler at Wildwood would result in no school for as long as it takes to fix the unit. And parts are hard to come by. A complete catastrophic failure would take months to replace.
In the meantime they could bring in a temporary furnace and connect it like a generator, or borrow one of the three heating units at the Middle School. Although that would require permission of the Regional School Committee.
All of which is disruptive to the education process at Wildwood Elementary School. So let's hope the town appropriates the $20k in repairs. And that spring comes early.