The Right Spot - 27 East


The Right Spot

As a member of the John Jermain Library Board, I am responding to the article “Sag Harbor Planners Set Hearing on John Jermain Memorial Library’s Heating System” [, May 29].

The library installed an open geothermal system, as there was insufficient room for a closed system. The board began discussions on the geothermal HVAC system in 2016, because the system never operated optimally. The library spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on remediation and two engineering studies. Both said the system needs replacing due to biofilm infiltration and a collapsed geothermal well. Another geothermal system is unfeasible.

The board chose the most energy-efficient HVAC system, a modular air-source heat pump chiller.

If we placed the HVAC system on the roof, it would appear as a third story with the necessary noise buffers, there is insufficient space for proper maintenance, and the weight requires additional structural reinforcement.

For ground-level placement, we prefer installing the HVAC system on the north side to minimize the impact on our lower-level entrance, courtyard and neighbors.

The HVAC would be close to the building, with noise-reducing buffers and plantings as natural screening. The older photo in the article doesn’t show the mature plantings that obscure more of the building.

The new system would block two ground-level windows but not the first-floor windows. It will be visible from the staff room but difficult to see elsewhere in the library. The addition and original building will act as noise buffers for the neighborhood.

Village Planning Board member Ronald Reed suggested an underground vault for the system, but the engineers called this suboptimal. An air-source heat pump chiller requires good ventilation. The library’s small lot has a septic system and so has inadequate space for a vault.

Reed suggested a south side location in our courtyard and pollinator gardens, near the ADA-accessible entrance and closer to our neighbors. The engineers called this location suboptimal. The south side requires rerouting plumbing and noise-buffering on three sides, making the footprint larger.

Reed suggested an enclosure, creating ventilation problems and an even larger footprint. Finally, this location is on the collapsed geothermal well.

The south side reduces the library’s function. The HVAC would eliminate the east and part of the south pollinator gardens. The program room, teen space, periodical room, fiction room and rotunda all would overlook the system.

The mostly glass lower-level programming room would be impacted by sound. The library could not use the courtyard for programs like summer tai chi, courtyard storytimes and ice cream socials. Finally, there is less room for natural screenings.

The board strongly believes the north side is the best HVAC location, minimizing the impact on the function and appearance of the library.

Ann Sutphen

North Haven