Steamy concert at school, no solution for heating problems

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Musicians and fans alike were sweltering at the SteelDrivers concert Saturday night.

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Musicians and fans alike were sweltering at the SteelDrivers concert Saturday night.

When SteelDrivers and A Jazz Connection got ready to rock the Rock Saturday night at Shelter Island School, they expected a warm reception on a cold night. What they got was warmth in more ways than one.

Because the school’s heating system is compromised, there is no control on regulating temperature, according to Superintendent Michael Hynes. The result was a packed and over-heated auditorium that was uncomfortable for both musicians and fans.

It’s what Dr. Hynes calls: “Part of our situation.”

Since the week of October 25 when the school’s antiquated heating system failed and had to be operated manually, building and grounds workers Mike Dunning and Greg Sulahian have been challenged to keep the system running, initially by having to actually be in the building once every hour around the clock and then via computer.

The Board of Education approved a $55,000 expenditure for new controls, but balked at asking voters to approve a bond to cover the anticipated $1.6 million cost of replacing the heating system.

It’s not that the board doesn’t want to see the improvements made, but two members — Linda Eklund and Marilynn Pysher — wanted more information before agreeing to commit to a plan proposed by Patrick McClave of Port Jefferson’s McClave Engineering. The company has overseen projects for the district in the past few years.

In December, the board agreed to consider a performance contract in place of a bond. That involves a company reviewing what needs to be done to save energy in the building, devising a plan and guaranteeing that the district will save as much or more in energy costs than it costs to do the work.
Weather permitting, the Board of Education was expected to meet Wednesday night after press deadline and could decide whether to pursue the performance contract or go the bond route.

But whatever the decision, there likely won’t be a project under way until at least 2015, since it would take time for a bond vote if that’s needed or the bid process to play out if they board goes the performance contract route.