Lehigh Valley

Generators for Gracedale: What's the hold up?

Generators for Gracedale: What's the hold up?

NAZARETH, Pa. - Some are asking what's holding up a $4 million project at Northampton County's Gracedale nursing home in Nazareth.

It's been more than a year since Gracedale's backup generators failed during Superstorm Sandy, and some say a replacement project isn't moving fast enough.

Some county council members are asking, "If the bond was approved in June, why hasn't the request for bids gone out?"

Gracedale officials said it's a process that can't be rushed.

"They have not acted at all on obtaining the generator for Gracedale," said Councilman Lamont McClure.

McClure said the county borrowed $4 million to replace the backup generator system at Gracedale in June, so bids for the project should be out by now.

Last year, Gracedale had to rely on FEMA generators for a week following Sandy after its system failed and now needs to be replaced.

"It would be hard to send the bid out because what would we be getting the bid for? Two big generators out back replace all four. Come off grid, stay on grid. There are so many decisions that have to be made and a lot of research has to be compiled to make the best, most informed decision," said D Freeman, Gracedale administrator.

Freeman said county officials are exploring all of their options before moving forward.

County Executive John Stoffa said it's the same criticism his administration faced when it retrofitted Gracedale's power plant and boiler to burn gas instead of oil.

Stoffa said the process was slow, but the energy savings paid for the project.

County officials said a request for proposals will go out next week, with requests for bids sometime around the new year. They said the best case scenario is the project could be completed by the end of 2014.

But just in case something like Sandy happens before then, Gracedale said it has made temporary repairs to the ailing generator and has four others to help provide emergency power.

"Every week on Tuesday we run them on full load, so they are tested once a week here," said Freeman.

Stoffa said the idea of taking Gracedale off the grid means it could potentially sell power back to the grid and make money.

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