2006-09-21 / News

Council approves school generator contract

By Dotti Farrington

Town councilors last week decided to award the bid for installation of an emergency generator for the Melrose Avenue School to Jack's Electric of Jamestown, the second lowest of five solicited price quotes for the work.

The Sept. 14 decision was made on the recommendation of Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, who said the availability of a local electrician in case of emergency warranted paying a little more than the lowest of four off-island bidders. The assurance of service "was imperative for an island in a major storm that could knock out bridges" and interfere with response from an off-island firm, Keiser said. Jack's Electric offered to install the unit for $16,290, $620 more than the lowest price quote.

The 150-kilowatt generator is being purchased for $42,845 from Milton Cat of Milford, Mass., with a federal Homeland Security grant that requires the town to pay for the installation. The purchase of the generator was approved after the council designated the Melrose Avenue School as the town's primary shelter in any emergency resulting in the need for such a facility.

Discussion about installing the generator led to Councilman William Kelly expressing his annoyance with school officials.

Kelly said the school department should be willing to contribute to the installation of the generator. Keiser reported that School Superintendent Robert Power said the funds were not budgeted and the school would not use the generator in a power outage but close the schools and send the students home. Councilors questioned if it might be more appropriate to keep students at school in emergencies.

Council Vice President Julio DiGiando said he expected the school would at least pay for the fuel to operate the generator and provide normal maintenance, which is basically a monthly twohour test run.

"It is a mistake by the schools not to co-operate. I take exception to their not stepping up to the plate." Kelly said. The schools should pay for half the cost of installation.

Keiser said the matter could be among issues due to be discussed at a special budget workshop for the Town Council and School Committee being arranged for early in October.

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