Town Hall Leak Forces Early Start to Planned Disruption for New HVAC System

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Southampton Town Hall

Some of the disruption at Southampton Town Hall expected over the next two years as new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are installed has already begun because of a leaky wall.

Once the HVAC work itself begins, sections of the building will be closed off in phases, with half of an existing auditorium on the first floor to be used as a staging area for supplies and equipment.

The other half of the auditorium will be used for the meetings of the town’s municipal boards, which will be moved from the second floor meeting room because the audio and video feeds there required to record and broadcast the meetings will be disrupted.

Meanwhile, a leaky exterior wall at the northwest corner of the building has allowed water to seep into Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer’s personal office, forcing her to move across the hall into the former offices for the town’s youth services program.

The firm designing the town’s HVAC project has been preparing bid specifications for exterior repairs to fix the leaks, including repointing the brickwork. Meanwhile, Ms. Schermeyer’s office has been stripped of carpeting and sheetrock so the tiles, plaster and brickwork could be tested for cancer-causing asbestos, a fire-retardant and heat-resistant material found in almost all pre-1980s commercial and public construction.

Only the floor tiles were found to contain asbestos, Christine Fetten, the town’s director of municipal works, told the Town Board at its work session on Thursday, January 17. Reporting on the water problem and the upcoming two-year HVAC installation project, she said the tiles will be removed “in the near future,” after which a new floor will be installed. Meanwhile, prices are being sought for the exterior brickwork, she said.

The water problem will require the Town Board to pass a resolution adjusting its design services contract with Melville engineering firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis to plan the HVAC project, Ms. Fetten told the board.

She reported that a single bid was received in December for HVAC equipment purchases totaling $235,340. The overall project is expected to cost up to $5 million, she told the board last year. The board is expected to vote on February 3 to seek bids for the three contractors —electrical, mechanical and HVAC — that will be hired to carry out the work.

The town began developing plans for a new HVAC heat-pump system in Town Hall over a year ago, after the Southampton School District announced it would not renew its contract to supply steam heat through an underground pipe from two boilers in the adjacent elementary school building after the agreement expires in 2020.

The main portion of the Southampton Town Hall building was built in 1912. It served as a high school after a separate elementary school was built next door and it became obsolete when a new high school complex was built on Narrow Lane. The south wing, where the auditorium is located, was added in 1925. The Town of Southampton purchased the building from the school district in the late 1970s and made renovations to accommodate government offices.

The work will be “a huge undertaking,” Ms. Fetten said, as the contractors remove drop ceilings and walls throughout the building, first removing existing pipes and other infrastructure to make way for the new HVAC equipment as well as new electrical and IT wiring.

Ms. Fetten also listed “a couple of concurrent projects” at Town Hall that will be carried out over the next two years, including replacing exterior doors to improve security; creating an Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant ramp for access to the lower level elevators through the southeast entrance; replace the more than 40-year-old elevator and extend its shaft to the third floor; and consolidate the building’s “three isolated sanitary systems” into two nitrogen-reducing or I/A systems, for which grant funding will be sought from the town’s Community Preservation Program.

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