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Committee to Study THS Shelter Power Source

The current generator cannot power the school for the 90-day maximum requirement under federal guidelines.

The town has officially created a committee to study how to power as an emergency shelter.

"Every high school in every major city is a shelter. Not everyone knows that," said Police Chief Thomas Kiely.

The committee will include Al Barbarotta, the owner's representative for THS, and police officials. The resolution passed the Town Council 12-1, with four abstentions.

Asked why a new generator was not included in the high school renovations, Kiely responded, "Were we consulted? Absolutely not. We just assumed it was all part of the building project."

"I'm glad they caught it when it they caught it," he said, referring to the Police Department's Emergency Management officials noticing the issue.

The committee will investigate whether to use another diesel-powered generator or an underground fuel cell powered by natural gas, which the state uses in all its buildings. The federal government offers incentives for fuel cell technology, Barbarotta has said.

Under federal guidelines, a shelter should be able to house 3,600 people for 90 days. THS was last used as a shelter during Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

The current generator will provide enough power to evacuate the building in case of emergency, Kiely noted.

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The school's gym, cafeteria, kitchen and showers would be used if the school operated as a shelter, the chief said.

Council members Martha Jankovic-Mark and James Meisner were both concerned about how the new equipment would be funded. 

Council President Carl Massaro replied that, "I think it's premature to jump to any conclusions."

Council Vice Chair Suzanne Testani added, "We don't know. That's why we're trying to form this committee."

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