Apr 02, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
When the Town of Marcellus overwhelmingly voted down the $3.2 million renovation and building project last week 700 to 269, Supervisor Dan Ross said optimistically it was time to look at Plan B.
The Town Board met Thursday, two days after the vote, for their monthly work session, where that secondary plan was on the agenda.
Ross said the board was ready to move on to prioritizing the necessities and luxuries of the vetoed project into short- and long-term goals.
“We’ll begin to prioritize what needs to be done to repair the building and correct the issues cited by the Department of Labor,” Ross said in an e-mail. “We’ll determine what we can do with current operating funds and look for grant money. We’ll deal with the space issues in a long-term plan.”
Among those repairs slated for short-term attention are added exits from the second floor.
Right under their nose
Village of Marcellus Mayor Mike Plochocki said the village’s purchase of the old library on Slocombe Avenue could lead to a less expensive possibility for both village and town to update facilities.
Town Councilor Bernie Montgomery said Thursday April 2 that he had not been informed of this option by the village.
“There’s a lot of chit-chat on the street,” Montgomery said of rumors circulating about the old library and Town Hall. But the village had never approached the town board with such an option, he said.
Though neither the town nor village has expressed interest in pursuing the option further, Plochocki said preliminary plans have been developed to determine whether the old library building presents a realistic opportunity for conversion into a new town hall.
Plochocki agreed to speak about the potential project, but emphasized that the village is considering other plans for the old library building, while the town is exploring several options for the much-needed renovations to Town Hall.
A Q&A with Mike Plochocki
Eagle Observer: When did the village purchase the old library building and why was the decision made to buy it?
Mike Plochocki: The village had the closing for the old library in early February. Prior to that, we had a public hearing to seek public input on the potential purchase. At the hearing the public input was universally positive on the matter. We (the Village Board) wanted to buy the building in order to turn the old library’s parking lot into a municipal parking lot (the Village Hall has very limited parking). As for the old library building itself, we are considering all options, including selling the building.
Are rumors true that one of the options being considered is to convert the old library into a new Town Hall?
Yes. We approached the local architectural firm Lake Architectural (which donates its time to provide free consulting services to the village) and asked if they thought the Town’s desired office space needs could be met by the old library. Lake drew up a basic design plan, and estimated that with a small addition on the back of the old library, as well as some other minor renovations, that indeed the town’s needs could be met.
Would the old library physically be able to handle the needs of the town in it’s current space?
According to Lake, the hallways in the proposed Town Hall renovation were unnecessarily wide. With the hallways made standard widths, as well as with the aforementioned small addition, Lake believes the town’s stated space needs can be fully met.
What was Lake’s estimated cost to the town for this?
They roughly estimated the cost at $750,000 or less.
According to preliminary plans, converting the old library would cost $2.5 million less than the proposed renovation plan that was voted down last week?
If indeed the estimate is accurate, yes.
Have you approached the town with this option?
Yes, I have. I’ve suggested even that a tunnel could be built into the hillside that adjoins the buildings so that the two buildings could effectively function as one municipal building with meeting rooms, etc., shared by the two governments. I think it would also be beneficial for the town court to be connected to the Village Police Department. I would also like to consider taking down the village highway garage (behind the village hall) — which would provide for more parking — and moving the village highway department up to the town highway garage on Slate Hill Road. The two departments would each remain part of their respective governments, but would share one facility. The village highway crew prefers that arrangement, actually.
What has been the Town’s reaction to this possibility?
The town has informed me that they are considering all options before them, including options not involving the village or the old library — such as just remaining in the current Town Hall, albeit with repairs. Although with the latter option, as I understand it, the town is also considering utilizing the old library on a temporary basis during the repairs, either just for the town court or for more operations. A meeting between members of the two governments is being set-up in the near future to discuss the possibilities. The village is happy to talk with the town regarding these or any other options.
Did the Town specifically express any downsides to utilizing the old library for its operations?
Yes, there were concerns regarding parking, as well as the lack of enough space to expand the building more in the future.
Is the end goal of all this to consolidate the Town and Village governments?
No. That could happen in the future, but it is not the goal. The goal as I see it is just to cut costs by having the two governments share as much municipal building space as is practical which still remaining separate institutions providing residents with different types of services.