The Riverside Public Library Board of Trustees could get the ball rolling on the replacement of its 31-year-old heating and air conditioning system within the next week after receiving two bids for the work on Oct. 13.

Library officials, its engineering consultant and representatives from the two bidding firms are expected to meet Oct. 21 to nail down specific questions regarding their bids and prior to awarding a contract for the work.

The library’s engineering consultant estimated that the work would cost between $300,000 and $350,000 to complete, and the two bids are quite far apart. 

The apparent low bidder is Chicago-based mechanical contracting firm W.J. O’Neill, which provided bid prices for units from three different manufacturers, York ($209,081), Trane ($267,078) and Aon ($286,470).

The higher bidder, Homer Glen-based G.T. Mechanical Projects and Designs Inc., provided a price for only one manufacturer, Trane, at $370,000. However, G.T. Mechanical provided more detailed bid documents at the Oct. 13 bid opening at the library.

The vice president of W.J. O’Neill, Larry Postema, who attended the bid opening told library trustees that his firm’s bid was so much lower because the company plans on installing a wireless control system, which eliminates the need to install point-to-point wiring.

“It’s the least intrusive control system for the library,” Postema said.

Another big difference in the two bids is that W.J. O’Neill is promising completion of the project within 90 days after obtaining permits. That would allow the new unit to be installed this winter, probably in December or January.

G.T. Mechanical, on the other hand, has proposed a completion window of 200 days, with installation of the new unit coming in April 2017 after outside temperatures reach at least 50 degrees.

That could prove problematic for the library board, because the three decade-old system malfunctions often and the computer software and the hardware are no longer supported, according to a report issued earlier this year by the board’s consultant, Cartland Krauss Engineering.

The village of Riverside has pledged to assist the library in funding the new heating and air conditioning system via a low-interest loan. The terms of that agreement and the amount being loaned has not been determined yet.