THOMASTON — It was a busy night for Thomaston municipal services at the Monday, Nov. 14 Select Board meeting, where the board approved an update to the Fire and EMS Station heating system, a possible new cruiser for the Police Department and a Pollution Control Department agreement to share wastewater pumps with Waldoboro.

Fire Chief Mike Mazzeo was in attendance, with Darryl Townsend of Rockcoast Plumbing and Heating, to discuss the failure of the current heating system at the 6 Knox St. station.

Upon opening the discussion, Select Board Chair Diane Giese called the situation “a catastrophic mess” and pointed out the seasons were moving into winter soon.

Mazzeo said the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service workers had tried to make do with the old heating system for years because they knew there was the possibility of a new building. However, the system had now gotten to the point where it would likely not pass state inspection.

Townsend said there is a leak in one of the cast-iron sections on the side of the boiler, and it will not last another season.

“It’s really on its last legs,” Mazzeo agreed.

Mazzeo said the town has been discussing and pricing out a replacement of the steam heat system in that building for decades. It had been slated for a replacement about 15 years ago, but the town was able to find a different solution.

“Do we want to risk taking it apart and trying to patch it again, or do we want a much better solution?” Mazzeo asked.

Board member Sandy Moore said she knew heat was important with the colder temperatures coming, but the town was working on building a new station. Could the new system be moved to the new building?

Townsend said moving boilers had always failed in his experience. He had tried to move a boiler to the station before, and it did not work well at all. The same thing had happened when the town moved into the new Municipal Building, too. They moved a boiler and installed it in the system, and then it died during the winter and created a heating emergency.

Replacing the heating system also would make the Knox Street building more valuable, he said.

Board member Peter Lammert said with the high cost of construction, the building would be marketable for something even without an updated heating system when the departments moved.

Townsend provided the town with a $66,560 to $68,800 estimate and scope of work outline to replace the building’s steam heating system with a new hydronic heating system that would use propane. His estimate included new parts like two gas boilers and a panel radiator for the office, and reusing old parts such as existing unit heaters and cast-iron radiators.

The proposal also specified a deposit of $33,280 was required to order the parts and schedule the work, and the work did not include removing the existing boiler system.

With a high efficiency boiler, Townsend said the system would operate at 90%. Right now a high percentage of the heat was going up the chimney.

Mazzeo said the station had burned through an entire tank of fuel from October to November.

“I can’t imagine what happens in January,” he said.

Moore asked about the possibility of installing heat pumps.

Mazzeo said he would love to do that, but heat pumps were not big enough to heat the bay, especially when they had to open the bay door in January during 0 degree temperatures. All the heat went right out that bay door.

Town Manager Kara George asked about the timeline to update the system.

Townsend said he would like to start as soon as possible, though he would need to order parts and supply chain issues may slow down the process.

Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy said the least expensive energy available to the town was electricity currently, as they had the solar farm. He wondered about the possibility of using electric heaters in the building for now.

Board member Zel Bowman-Laberge asked about a hybrid solution using some electric heat. Other board members agreed they would prefer a hybrid solution that utilized electricity.

Townsend said he was not an electrician, so he would need to look into that.

Mazzeo said he was concerned with the time it would take to investigate this hybrid solution. “We don’t know when that boiler is going to die,” he said.

Bowman-Laberge said it was hard to drain a reserve account to update a heating system in a building the town was going to replace.

Chair Diane Giese agreed, but pointed out the town did not know how long it would take to get a new Fire and EMS station, and they could not allow the town emergency workers to freeze in the meantime.

Bowman-Laberge then made a motion to move forward with Townsend’s proposal, which passed unanimously.

The board also discussed purchasing a new police cruiser.

Police Chief Tim Hoppe said the department’s 2018 Dodge Charger police cruiser was hit by a turning vehicle towing a boat in July. This caused damage to the cruiser, which the department still owed money on.

Hoppe said he understood the board preferred electric vehicles, and he liked the current electric Ford Mustang the department purchased. However, there is a long waiting list to purchase electric vehicles currently.

Hoppe said he would also like to purchase just one style of vehicles moving forward, and he would prefer that be a truck.

He said there was currently a 2016 Dodge Charger with all the equipment the town needed. It would require a paint job, but could be on the road for the department within two days.

Bowman-Laberge asked if the department really needed another truck. Moore said electric vehicles were coming out if the town could just wait.

Giese said her son was on the list for the Ford Lightning electric vehicle truck, and would remain on the list for the town.

Fancy said the town had plenty of electricity to charge these vehicles.

Public Works Director Brandon Allen said he supported electric vehicles, but was concerned about the towing capacity and plowing ability of an electric vehicle.

Hoppe said the Ford Lightning was rated for the town’s towing needs.

Hoppe said the department could function without an additional cruiser for now, but he would need the town to authorize placing his name on the list to purchase an electric vehicle.

Bowman-Laberge made a motion to authorize Hoppe to place his name on the waitlist for purchasing an electric vehicle. The motion passed unanimously.

Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy then spoke with the board about an agreement between the Waldoboro Utility District and the Thomaston Pollution Control Department to share pumps for the wastewater pump stations.

Fancy said the two towns both had Myers-model submersible wastewater pumps, and all had failed multiple times.

“Something is wrong with these pumps,” Fancy said. This could put the town at substantial risk with state departments and would be bad publicity.

Fancy said the solution was to share one spare pump with Waldoboro Utilities District for half the cost of a new one.

The pumps cost $31,240 new. The agreement, which Fancy said he wrote, states the Thomaston Pollution Control Department and Waldoboro Utilities District will split the cost of purchasing a spare pump, including purchase and delivery.

The agreement also states the cost of transporting, installing and removing the spare pump will fall to the party using it.

Bowman-Laberge then made a motion to authorize George to sign the pump sharing agreement.

The next Thomaston Select Board meeting is Monday, Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Thomaston Municipal Building.

A recording of the meeting can be viewed at: