Public Safety in need of updates

ALPENA – The Alpena Public Safety Building is 20 years old and in need of some updates that will allow the facility to function more efficiently and economically. During Monday’s Alpena Municipal Council meeting, council voted to hire AKT Peerless for $8,200 to evaluate the heating and cooling systems, devise a plan and a cost estimate for the needed repairs or replacement. The council then is expected to vote to see if the city will move forward with the project.

City Engineer Rich Sullenger said after two decades there are issues that need to be addressed. He said some repairs have been made to them, but they are only short-term and permanent repairs are needed.

“We know we have to replace the boilers and we know we have to replace the chillers on the air handling units. Those are shot,” Sullenger said. “We are bringing the consultant in to evaluate and provide recommendations to us on what to get to get more efficiency, and to look at the control system and see what type of modifications need to be done.”

Sullenger said Peerless’ report also will figure in how much the city can save by installing more modern, or “green,” equipment. He said once the study is complete and presented to council, a vote will determine whether or not to move forward with the project. Sullenger said a special fund is in place with enough money to cover the cost, if council votes to use it.

“When the facility was built there was bond money and local money that was put toward the project and when it was done there was a little more than $300,000 that was leftover,” Sullenger said. “The thinking was the interest could be used toward maintenance, with council’s approval the principal could be used for a major upgrade that was needed. It was actually very forward thinking of the council then.”

Fire Chief Bill Forbush said the system problems are noticeable. He said not only will the improvements lower the cost of utilities at the facility, but also improve the work climate, which varies from room to room.

“The are 26 temperature zoning devices in the building that have developed problems or failed, so you really can’t regulate the heat and cold any more,” Forbush said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs and troubles with maintenance trying to keep it running.”

Sullenger said the consultants are expected to begin work Nov. 14 and should have a recommendation for council in the first quarter of next year.

“They will be bringing a crew up and looking at the building, gathering information and going through the various scenarios,” Sullenger said. “It is our target to have the final report back and out by February.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at