The City Council agreed to notify the state that it would not be able to use an $89,000 grant to upgrade the muncipal building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system within the deadline provided by the state at last night's meeting.
As of the meeting last night, the city had not proceeded with either the engineering design or the procurement of materials identified in the grant, according to a memo provided by Jim Chandler, Hyattsville community and economic development director.
The grant was awarded in September of 2009. A report of work done and invoices would have to be submitted by June 1, 2012, according to the memo.
"My disappointment is that by the time the Council has to make a decision of what to do or we lose that money, it doesn't even have the information to make that decision," said Council Member Timothy Hunt.
The Council would have had to make a decision by October 31 on what to do in order to make the deadline, according to Chandler's memo.
"I don't like the idea of giving back the money," said Chandler, "But I don't want to upset MEA [Maryland Energy Association]."
MEA would receive the funds after they are returned, although the money itself comes from a federal U.S. Department of Energy Block Grant, according to the memo. The terms of the grant stated it had to be used on an energy effecient HVAC system at the municipal building.
Council Member Shani Warner pointed out that the real problem is that the city doesn't know what it wants to do with the current city municipal building as it outgrows the building and develops the Arcade building next door.
"As a result we don't know what system we want," said Warner.
Chandler wrote in the memo that, "Having worked in this building since 2007, I can attest to the poor performance of the existing units. This observation was confirmed with findings of the 2010 Facilities Assessment which states that the roof-mounted air handling units have surpassed their expected service lives and are operating with decreasing efficiency."
Chandler noted that to replace the HVAC units and do the duct work necessary to make them efficient would cost around $130,000. The grant would cover a large portion of that.
"I too don't like to turn back $89,000," said Mayor Marc Tartaro, "But the strategy for this building is going to be very different than what it was 20 years ago."
Council Member Carlos Lizanne recalled a time when the Council previously rushed a project to meet a grant deadline and the project ended up taking much longer than planned and went over budget.
"We are not going to be able to make a presentation and make a decision in this time period," said Council Vice-President David Hiles, "We're doing the best thing for the environment by letting the state know we'd like someone else to use this money."
After reaching a consensus, the Council decided to let the state know the city was not in a position to spend this money and to find a suitable home for it.