By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
Three years ago, the Liberal Housing Authority experienced a breakdown in its chilling system that cools Parklane Towers. For every bit of that three years, Director Carol Beckwith worked on extensive paperwork to receive a grant from the federal government that finally paid off – to the tune of nearly $1.2 million.
“Three years ago, our chiller failed for the building – we have a chiller/boiler system,” Beckwith said. “We started doing some research and started working and found that the circulation pipes were also bad. When the engineer looked at it, he said, ‘You have over a $1 million project.’”
The LHA simply did not have the funds to take on a project of that magnitude, Beckwith said. Then Housing and Urban Development finally stepped in.
“Obviously, we run on bare-minimum capital funds and reserves from the government, because our object is to give very decent and affordable housing for people that are low income,” she said. “So, we may have rents that are $30 for a three bedroom – because it depends on their income. We don’t keep a huge reserve fund or we can’t do profits. We don’t make money, we are typically just a service for the community.
“So, we applied for emergency funding,” she explained. “It took me three years of unbelievable stacks and stacks of paperwork to finally get the government to give us the grant for $1,189,140. So, we have the go ahead to do the repairs.”
Beckwith said the grant will allow the LHA to offer the residents of Parklane Towers a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system.
“This will bring our building up to state of the art, high efficiency, energy efficiency,” she said. “So, it is a 40-year-old building, and we will actually have good heating and cooling now.
“It is extremely expensive,” she continued. “They have to go into each apartment and change the piping and the building is cinder block and steel. The building was built in the early 70s. Actually, the chiller had been replaced almost 20 years ago. So, for it to die on us was unexpected. The boiler was the original boiler, it is 40 years old. I was informed through all the engineering information that we are on borrowed time with it. It was a good thing that we discovered it the way we did – before we had a major catastrophe.”
For the past three years, the LHA was able to make those hot summer months livable for the residents of the building by purchasing individual air conditioning units.
“I was able to purchase, through some of our capital funds, individual air conditioners,” she said. “So, they had air conditioning, but it was not at all energy efficient. But, we did the best we could in the situation we were in.”
Beckwith is excited the LHA will now be able to offer residents improved services regarding their heating and cooling. The long three years of work, she said, was well worth every second.