Price uncertainty clouds needed HVAC repairs at Wyandanch library

The Wyandanch library is having repairs done to its HVAC system that board trustees said will allow the building to remain open without the portable HVAC units it has been using since last year.

However, the exact nature of those repairs, who is doing them and how much they will cost remains unclear, even to trustees. The board had previously said the system needs to be replaced at a cost of more than $1 million but have not publicly laid out a plan for how they will get that funding.

The library was the only one on Long Island to remain shuttered for more than a year after the pandemic started in March 2020. Trustees said the shutdown was due to safety concerns over the HVAC’s improper air circulation.

Savin Engineers of Hauppauge was paid $10,000 later that year to evaluate the building’s 37-year-old system and said the system needed to be replaced at a cost of $1.2 million to $1.5 million. The building remained closed until June 2021, when parts of it reopened with portable HVAC units outside. The library has since opened fully, with indoor portable machines that cost $5,000 to $7,000 per month, according to trustee Nancy Holliday, the building and grounds committee chairwoman.

Now, board members are saying that repairs being done for far less will provide a temporary fix. Board president Ghenya Grant did not say whether Savin, Sunbelt Rentals of Farmingdale, who is supplying the portable units, or another company is doing the repair work. 

“We really are working to try to eliminate the use of those machines,” Grant said last week at a library meeting. 

It was unclear the extent of the work being done, even to Grant. When asked by board vice president Jordan Thomas whether the library had received an invoice for the work, she said she did not have one but instead had a “verbal quote” from the company, which was not named. 

Grant said she thinks the amount of the preparation work done so far is “less than $10,000.” She said, “Even if it’s a temporary solution, it’s a better temporary solution than those machines.”

Problems with the HVAC system go back years, according to board members. Newsday has asked the library for HVAC billing and service records through a Freedom of Information request, but the library has not provided those records. Newsday is currently in litigation with the library over its failure to respond substantively to more than two years of various FOIL requests.

At the meeting, library accountant Harry Meyer reported that building and grounds spending is occurring at such a rate that  “it’s possible the category will be over budget by June.” The library’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Holliday said the budget line is “running high because we are working on the HVAC,” but that the library hopes a $150,000 state grant will help toward the bills.