The Board of Trustees of the John Jermain Memorial Library will hold is Regular Monthly Meeting on July 17th at 6:00 pm in the Gloria Primm Brown Friends of the Library Community Room. Click here for more information or to view the meeting virtually.

We need a new HVAC… ASAP

Pictured above is a rendering of the new HVAC system location with sound attenuating fence and plantings.

As you may have seen in the Sag Harbor Express in April John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor Will Replace Heating System
And in May Sag Harbor Planners Set Hearing on John Jermain Memorial Library’s Heating System
And in June Letter to the Editor: The Right Spot

We need to replace our HVAC…ASAP!

Our geothermal HVAC system is rapidly deteriorating and we desperately need to replace it before it fails completely.  After almost three years of research, engineering and feasibility studies as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance, repairs and cleanings, the Board of Trustees have put forward its application to abandon its Geothermal HVAC system and install an energy-efficient modular air-source heat pump chiller.

The proposed location would be on the North side (Union St) of the building tucked in the corner where the addition meets the historic building. This location was chosen because it would have the least amount of impact on Library operations, provides more opportunity for sound attenuation through paneling and plantings and would be hidden by the Library’s current plantings and additional trees.  It would also be located behind a utility box already on the property. Most importantly, this location would have the least impact on our neighbors.

Rendering of equipment placed on the North Side. View from Union Street.

The Planning Board raised several questions at its May 28, 2024 meeting and I would like to answer them here for you. Please note: Our engineer will be at the Planning Board Hearing on June 25th to provide more in-depth answers. Once we receive his final report, we will post it on our website but for now, I will do my best to answer those questions for you as simply as possible. 1UPDATE: Click here to read our Engineer’s Report answering the questions posed by the Planning Board

  • How much space would a vertical closed loop system require?
    • More space than we have on our property. Our property is not very big and there are a lot of things under the ground already (like our septic system and leaching pools) There is no room to put in a closed loop whether it be vertical or horizontal. This is why we have an open loop to begin with.
  • Is there a possibility of reusing the wells that are there? What is the current capacity? Would a closed loop system require additional wells?
    • We cannot reuse our current wells. We have two source and two diffusion wells. One source well has collapsed. The other three wells are fouled beyond repair by biofilm. After consulting with the engineers at PW Grosser they provided a written report. In their written report which was given to the Planning Board, it was explained that it would be extremely difficult to locate space on property to relocate our four wells. Digging test wells is very expensive and could take many tries to find clean water. Further, it is likely we would be unable to find water free from biofilm or that would remain free from biofilm. It was recommended we abandon geothermal.  
  • Could the new system be installed below grade or partially below grade?
    • The manufacturer of the equipment and our engineer have advised us this is not an option. The equipment would not work effectively or efficiently if it were vaulted. For it to work in a vault, the vault would need to be much larger than the equipment and there is no space on the property for a vault of that size.
  • The Planning Board would like to see how putting the system on the other side of the building next to the courtyard could work.
    • This was considered by the Board of Trustees as a potential location early on in the process. It was quickly determined that this would be loud and unsightly. To place it in the Library’s Community Plaza would reduce our ability to provide visual and sound attenuating screening. It would also mean removing the pollinator garden, greatly reducing the size of our busy plaza, obstructing the curtain wall of windows on the South side of the lower level Gloria Primm Brown Friends of the Library Community Program Room, and would be visible on all sides, from inside the Library, from our neighbors’ properties and even from Main Street.

      Rendering of HVAC equipment if placed on the South Side (Jefferson Street) of the building in the Library’s Plaza
  • What are the limitations to putting the equipment on the roof of the building?
    • The footprint of the equipment along with the necessary visual barrier and sound attenuation would make it all but impossible, not to mention incredibly dangerous, to service. It is my understanding it would also be louder for our neighbors. The project’s scope would be much larger and more expensive requiring the Library to close while the equipment is piped through the building to the lower level mechanical room. Further, there are concerns about the need to reinforce the building to hold the structural load of the equipment. Basically, it would be unsafe, unsightly, loud, and force us to close the Library and Jefferson Street for construction. It would take a lot more time and money to complete the work while making our neighbors and our community miserable.

For those who want the Readers Digest Version or as the kids say TL;DR…

This Rendering includes the equipment placed on both sides of the Library property so you can see the impact on the view from Main Street in one image. The HVAC would not be visible from Main Street when placed in the location proposed in our application. If the unit is to be placed on the south side of the building it would be clearly visible from Main Street.

The John Jermain Memorial Library has done its due diligence. We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and research to try and save the geothermal system. Our only option is to abandon geothermal. The application put before the Planning Board was over two years in the making and thoughtfully designed for minimal impact to our Library and most importantly minimal impact on our community.  It is imperative we move forward with this project before the system completely fails. The Library is a designated Suffolk County Heating and Cooling Center. Proper climate control is essential to the care and keeping of our Library materials and the health and safety of our staff and patrons. Our Local History Archive Center contain priceless documents and ephemera related to Sag Harbor’s rich and storied history. Failure to maintain proper humidity and temperature in our archival space leads to rapid deterioration, mold growth and ultimately the loss of irreplaceable items. 

Thank you for taking the time and energy to learn more about our HVAC Replacement Project. I am available and happy to answer any questions and discuss this issue further. You can reach me by calling the Library at 631.725.0049 ext. 223 or sending me an email at

The Planning Board Site Application Hearing will be held on Tuesday, June 25th at 5:00 pm at the Municipal Building located at 55 Main Street in Sag Harbor. This is a public meeting and all are invited to attend. 

Click here to view application materials

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