Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn: $1.2 million boiler replacement project is ongoing at three buildings

LYNN — Three city buildings are heating up with a $1.2 million boiler replacement project.

Lynn Classical High School, Brickett Elementary School and City Hall are seeing heating upgrades. Funds for the boiler replacement — $530,000; $328,000 and $350,000 for each respective building — were approved by the City Council through a 2018 bond, which included 27 capital projects.

New boilers were needed at Brickett and City Hall because the current ones are too old and past their useful life. City Hall’s boilers are from the 1980s and Brickett’s were built in 1979, according to Michael Donovan, the city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) chief.

The 40-year-old boilers at Brickett were failing and have had to be repaired annually for the past several years.

“A boiler’s lifespan is 25 years,” Donovan said. “Once you break 25 years, (you) not only get your money back, but you are living on borrowed time.”

Classical High has a different issue. The boilers there are only 20 years old, but the slab in the school is sinking, which has caused serious damage to the boilers. Classical’s boilers are leaking and there have been days without heat, according to Donovan.

The boilers are being replaced and relocated to the mezzanine level of the school. Classical’s boiler room is two stories high, Donovan said.

The school, which opened in 1999, was built on an old dump site and began to sink soon after it was completed.

It’s been determined that the concrete slab under the first floor was not properly supported by pilings. A subsequent lawsuit allotted the school department repairs to the worst part of the building and a $17 million settlement.

The 2004 lawsuit was settled two years later and Donovan estimates the city has spent $16 million to $17 million to repair the building.

“Classical has been an ongoing repair situation since the building opened,” Donovan said. “It’s sinking. We’re monitoring it. (We’ve) repaired 40 percent of the building.”

The boiler replacement at the three buildings began at the end of December and there’s no definitive end date. Donovan said the work is “scheduled for completion as soon as they’re done.”

The replacement is different from the $30,000 boiler repair work that was done at Sewell-Anderson Elementary School earlier this month. The repairs were done after heating issues that left some parents wondering why school wasn’t canceled on a January day when there wasn’t heat in some areas of the building.

Donovan said the school’s 27-year-old boiler system has been targeted for replacement for three years, a $1.2 million project that will be included in the city’s capital improvement plan. He estimates the repair should last for a year or two at Sewell-Anderson.

The city is working with the Edward J. Collins Center at the University of Massachusetts-Boston to develop a five-year capital plan, which will be presented to the City Council on Feb. 26.

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