September 18, 2023 |

Photo – Heating/Cooling system at Rawlins Family Rec Center – Courtesy City of Rawlins

The Rawlins facilities superintendent recently updated the governing body on the state of city-owned buildings.

Before the September 5th Rawlins city council meeting, city officials held a special workshop to discuss deferred maintenance on the city’s buildings. Facilities Superintendent Anthony Zabala started his presentation by informing the council of just how bad the maintenance situation is in the city. Zabala said many of the heating and air conditioning systems used in city buildings are far out of date.

Zabala started by talking about the hydronic heating system in the Rawlins Family Recreation Center. A hydronic heating system uses hot water to heat the surrounding air. The hot air is then circulated through the building to provide heat. Zabala said one of the two circulation pumps for the hydronic system is leaking badly and needs to be replaced.

The hydronic heating system is original to the rec center building. Zabala said while only one of the pumps is broken, both 30-year-old circulation pumps are past their operational lifespan. With no spare parts available, Zabala recommended replacing the two heating pumps.

Zabala said only three city buildings still use hydronic heating systems, the rec center, the Rawlins police department, and city hall. The facilities superintendent said none of the three buildings have a way to add an anti-freezing agent, called ethylene glycol, to the heating systems. Zabal said without glycol additives, the hot water pipes freeze and burst during the winter.

Zabala said the back-up emergency diesel generator in the rec center also needs to be replaced. The facilities superintendent said despite not being used often, a lack of available replacement parts means a brand-new unit should be purchased.

Zabala recommended replacing the Cummings diesel generator with a natural gas-powered unit.

The facilities supervisor said one of the four boilers in the rec center has failed after nearly two decades. Like the heating pump and generator, Zabala said replacement parts are nearly impossible to come by. Zabala said his temporary repairs should keep the boiler going in the short-term.

Zabala went over other items in the rec center that need to be addressed, such as hot water heaters for the showers and a badly leaking roof.

The facilities superintendent said, “Gone are the days of having equipment last a lifetime.” Zabala said while new units are more efficient, they are less durable. He said a well-funded maintenance plan is needed to ensure new equipment lasts as long as it’s supposed to.

Zabala also discussed heating and cooling issues in the police station and city hall as well as structural problems at the historic train depot.

Mayor Terry Weickum told Zabala that the maintenance items should have been addressed during city budget talks earlier in the summer. Mayor Weickum said now the city must pull the money from another department to pay for the necessary repairs.

Zabala said he was unaware of the need to fit the repairs into the facilities maintenance budget.

Later in the council meeting, City Manager Tom Sarvey said several of the repairs Zabala mentioned cannot wait until the next fiscal year. Sarvey said he will present a budget amendment that includes the maintenance payments.

Sarvey said he’ll have more budget information ready in time for the next city council meeting, which is tomorrow, September 19th.

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