Officials pay $100G a year to get heat from a system connected to an adjacent elementary school, but that arrangement will be terminated at the end of 2020.

Southampton Town will spend an estimated $4.8 million over the next three years to build a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system for its Town Hall that will allow officials to discard an unusual and outdated heating setup.

The adjacent Southampton Elementary School now supplies high-pressure steam heat to Town Hall through an underground cast iron pipe, an arrangement that costs the town about $100,000 per year, town officials said.

A district spokeswoman said the current arrangement is “no longer an efficient or functional distribution of resources.” The school has given the town until Dec. 31, 2020, to disconnect from the system.

“It’s clear and unwavering the school wants us out,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said during a Jan. 18 town board work session.

The Town Hall on Hampton Road was built between 1900 and 1905 and served Southampton’s kindergarten through 12th-grade students until 1930. The building was probably heated with coal during that time, according to Peter Gaudiello, the town’s maintenance supervisor.

Town Hall then became the district’s high school from the 1930s through the 1970s. The steam pipe was built when the adjacent elementary school was constructed in the 1930s, and its boilers have supplied heat to the 48,000-square-foot Town Hall building ever since, Gaudiello said.

Town Hall supplies its own air conditioning and some supplemental heat using a hodgepodge of 24 large heating and cooling units scattered throughout the building, as well as some window units, he said.

“We have a residentially designed heating and cooling system in a commercial building,” Gaudiello said.

The town board recently awarded Nelson & Pope Engineers and Surveyors $275,000 to design a variable refrigerant flow system to replace the current setup.

The method works much like a refrigerator, pushing hot air out when the building needs to be cooled and taking in heat from the atmosphere when the building needs to be warmed. It can heat and cool different portions of the building simultaneously, and an auxiliary system will supplement the heat in extreme cold temperatures. It would be powered by electricity and would be flexible to allow for an expansion or the addition of solar panels.

“It’s a miraculous technology,” Schneiderman said.

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