LYNDON — The Board of Selectmen on Thursday approved a new furnace for Fenton Chester Arena.

By a 3-0 vote, the Select Board authorized up to $19,821 for a total replacement of the furnace system. Fred’s Plumbing and Heating submitted the winning bid.

The Select Board OK’d the new furnace as part of $25,000 in building improvements, designed to help non-profit RINK Inc. re-open the dormant facility, which has been closed since March 2020 due to COVID-19.

RINK Inc. was awarded a five-year management contract (renewable annually) last month.

Andrew McGregor, a director of RINK Inc., applauded the Select Board decision.

“We are thankful for the support the town is giving the re-opening effort and excited for all the work that is underway and planned,” said McGregor, a Caledonian-Record employee. “The response of the community has made all of this possible and we look forward to a great season skating at FCA again.”

The Select Board had postponed a decision on the furnace system from last month due to cost concerns.

They struggled to squeeze four maintenance projects below the self-imposed $25,000 spending cap.

A complete furnace replacement, and $4,264 already spent on electrical code work, would have accounted for 95% of the funds allotted for FCA improvements. That would have short-changed two other projects (repairs to the ceiling and the water softening system).

However, on Thursday, the Select Board’s cost concerns were lessened for two reasons.

One, Efficiency Vermont has announced they will provide greater-than-expected rebates on some project costs. And two, repairs to the water softening system can be pushed back (or handled creatively) if needed.

Members of the Select Board also recognized that the 41-year-old building, which is town-owned, was in serious need of upkeep.

“We do have to remember that this is an asset that is depreciating because it has been neglected. So it would be nice if we could keep it an appreciating asset for our community,” said Select Board member Nancy Blankenship.

Town Administrator Justin Smith agreed, saying, “That’s the thing that we have to understand about all of these things that we’re looking at replacing right now. The furnace, it’s 40 years old. The water softener, I think it went in with the building. … The bill comes due sometimes, and it’s due now. But if you average it out over the lifespan of the equipment that’s been in there, it’s not a large number.”

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