DeWitt library AC repair on horizon

DEWITT — A failed compressor in an air conditioning unit has caused temperatures in the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library to rise over the past week. However, a solution is on the horizon.

Both rising temperatures and humidity have left patrons and library staff uncomfortable.

Library director Jillian Aschliman said staff members brought in fans from home to help alleviate the heat and humidity. In addition to patrons, long exposure to high humidity is not ideal for the materials stored at the library either.

“It’s not one of those things – knowing we have a building project coming up – that we would leave it until the building is complete. We need to address this for the short term,” Aschliman said. “Right now we seem to be OK but it should get done soon.”

The DeWitt City Council last Tuesday approved a replacement compressor and refrigerant for $15,485.

Deciding on the replacement took some deliberation among DeWitt City Administrator Steve Lindner and the council, mainly due to the unit’s short-term necessity.

With a new library all but certain by 2020, and with that, a new HVAC system, Lindner also explored more temporary fixes for repairs. However, those options were not recommended.

Cost played a big factor in the decision.

“We talked to Trane [an HVAC manufacturer] about rentals, but both Trane and [engineering firm] KCI thought the best bet was to put in the compressor,” Lindner said. “Cost wise, it’s a pretty good cost. We can’t beat it with any other option.”

Other options included rental options ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per month. Lindner researched ductless units as well, which cost around $2,000 apiece. The library would have needed at least eight of those units to properly regulate the temperature.

Lindner then inquired about pre-purchasing a unit that could then be modified to work with the new library once completed. Engineering consultants felt it was not a good option, Lindner said. Considering rewiring, rerouting ductwork and relocating the roof unit, the option didn’t hold traction.

The council approved an agreement with TMI Climate Solutions for replacement of the air compressor and refrigerant in the air conditioner unit. The repairs will be paid for using funds in the library’s reserve account intended for large repairs.

“We didn’t want to do it, but we’re looking at the rest of this season,” Lindner said. “If everything goes as planned, they’ll still be using the existing portion of the library next summer. It’s too much to ask patrons to take the heat [all next summer].

In other business, the council:

– Approved a temporary street closure for Pumpkin Fest on Oct 14. The 700 to 1000 blocks of Sixth Avenue will be closed along with the 500 and 600 blocks of Eighth Street.

– Approved a revised 28E agreement for the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency. Lindner said city customers shouldn’t see an increase or change on bills, but could potentially “help stabilize” costs.

– Approved two change orders for the Sixth Avenue Project underway. The first change order is for no extra cost, but allows the contractor and the city to use the Iowa Department of Transportation online system called “Doc Express” to administer the project. The other is for $22,630 and covers conflicts between the new 48-inch storm water and additional 8-inch water main and sanitary sewer. The total cost is eligible for federal aid.

– Approved an application to the Alliant Hometown Safety Grant Program for $2,000 to replace three AED machines. The police department would provide a match of $2,050.

Nick Joos is the DeWitt Observer's news editor.