Petersburg’s swimming pool closed in January of 2020 following a cold snap that damaged heating systems. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Petersburg will be buying two new boilers for the 15-year-old community swimming pool. The borough assembly Wednesday agreed to skip a public bidding process and purchase that replacement equipment from a company that’s helped with repairing the building over the past year.

Petersburg’s aquatic center, completed in 2006, had a rough 2020. It shut down with a leak and problems in the heating and ventilation systems early that year. The pandemic meant other prolonged closures and the building suffered an electrical fire in the electrical breaker box and control panel for the boilers in October. The borough hired Anderson Electric of Juneau to help with some of the repairs following that fire. Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht told the assembly it makes sense to purchase new boilers from that same company.

“So they’ve spent a good amount of time learning our system and how everything goes together and participated in the full review of the whole facility and basically designed what we need to do both to repair from the fire but also future repairs to get it back up to speed,” Giesbrecht said. “The cost to bring somebody else back in and have them learn what amounts to almost a year’s worth of knowledge makes it easier to go sole source.”

It was a 6-0 assembly vote, with assembly member Tom Fine Walsh not at the meeting. That’ll mean skipping the normal competitive bidding process and buy the boilers through Anderson Electric. One heats the water in the pool, another is used to heat air in the building. The cost of the new equipment could total 120-thousand dollars and the borough will have to pay for installation on top of that. The assembly anticipated the replacement in budgeting last year, setting aside 450-thousand dollars from the borough’s property development fund for the project. Some of the cost could be covered by insurance.

Giesbrecht expects it could take 20 weeks or more to get those heaters to Petersburg because of supply shortages during the pandemic. He noted the timeframe’s been pushed up for replacement.

“We expecting these boilers to last a little bit longer until we got all of the repairs from the fire done and then we could take a look at all of the rest of the stuff later,” Giesbrecht said. “After this latest process where they’ve gone down several times in the last month or two, the electrical engineers said we’re done. They are at the end of their useful life and you better start the process of getting new ones in place quick.”

The borough still has to do more permanent repairs to the electrical system. Some facility closures are expected once that work is underway.

In other votes, it was also unanimous to approve new guidance for volunteer fund raising efforts for projects on borough property.

Among the requirements – a project will need written approval by the manager along with any department heads involved. Work could not start until all funding is secured. All costs of any work are the responsibility of the volunteer group unless the borough agrees otherwise.

Assembly member Jeff Meucci thought it was a good idea to clarify the requirements in the future.

“I think that it’s great if we have a project and my intent was never to discourage that,” Meucci said. “I think that this is something that we need and I want to thank everybody who worked on it.”

The two most recent examples of this kind of a project are a covered deck at Mountain View Manor and the new playground at Sandy Beach Park both completed this year and both largely paid for with local donations. In October the assembly agreed to kick in some COVID economic rescue funding for the deck project.

Another unanimous vote was to approve a change order for repair of the fire-damaged motor pool building. Local company Rainforest Contracting is finishing up that project this fall. The price tag is now around one point two million dollars with most of that covered by insurance.