Fruit Street School in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A Bangor elementary school will get an entirely new heating system this summer, years after a facilities assessment found significant problems in the existing system.

The Bangor City Council voted Monday to approve using $2.6 million in borrowed funds to pay for the new system at Fruit Street School. City councilors approved the funding as an “emergency,” meaning there will be no requirement that voters approve the use of the bond funds.

The project comes years after a 2019 study found deficiencies in school facilities throughout the city, including the heating system at Fruit Street School.

The study found the system’s piping had been in use for longer than its recommended lifetime. The system has also been showing signs of corrosion and leaking, according to information provided to city councilors.

The school was built in 1954 and the steam heating system was expected to last 40 to 50 years.

Construction to replace the entire system is anticipated to begin next summer when students aren’t in school and the heat isn’t in use, according to Bangor School Department spokesperson Ray Phinney.

Phinney said this project is the fifth the department is undertaking to address deficiencies outlined in the facilities study. The school decided not to address the school’s heat immediately because the system still functioned.

Instead, the school department first opted to renovate the electrical and heating systems and the roof at Bangor High School, as those were all in dire need of work. The department then replaced the heating system at Vine Street School, Phinney said, which nearly mirrors the work at Fruit Street School because the schools are similar in structure and were built around the same time.

This summer, crews at Vine Street School removed old radiators in every classroom and radiators located in the hallway. The aging radiators would get too hot for students to touch, leading teachers to direct students to walk on the other side of the hallway, Phinney said.

“Now, it’s a lot safer for students, burns less oil and heats our building more efficiently,” Phinney said.

The department also wanted to space out the pricey projects.

“If we did these projects all at once, we would’ve had to ask the city for a lot of money,” Phinney said. “Our biggest thing has been making sure we’re fiscally responsible because it impacts the city and taxpayers.”

The department also grappled with staff turnover and the COVID-19 pandemic following the assessment, further slowing the process of addressing the deficiencies.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...