Dec 11, 2012 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The DeWitt Town Board voted 5-2 Monday to pay Josall Syracuse Inc. $99,242 to fix the roof and shore up the structure of the parks maintenance facility located at 5889 Butternut Drive.
Board members argued over whether the town should commit funds to fixing a building whose future isn’t certain. The building, purchased by the town in 2001, is home to park maintenance equipment and the office of the parks superintendent.
“This was a temporary fix in 2001,” said Councilor Ken Andrews. “It was absolutely meant to be a temporary housing of the department.”
“Never did I hear let’s let the building fall down,” Supervisor Ed Michalenko responded.
Andrews and Michalenko, along with councilors Kerry Mannion, Irene Scruton and Jack Dooling, voted in favor of the motion to award the contract to Josall while councilors Brian Schultz and Tony Albanese voted against.
Dooling introduced the motion by reporting that Josall had the lowest bid out of four contractors. Josall re-quoted the job with the town’s recent findings that the roof contains some asbestos, Dooling said. With snowfall on its way, he said, getting the roof fixed has become “an emergency situation.”
“They can do the roof starting in December and hopefully the labor will be done in January, maybe sooner,” Dooling said. “And we would not have to vacate the building.”
Schultz said the building was of poor quality, starting with the mold on the walls, and was not worth investing in.
“There’s only one locker room, so you don’t have a co-ed facility,” he said. “There’s no break room of any kind to speak of.”
He said he has discussed the issue for the last three months with the facilities committee, which includes the town’s department heads and director of operations and sustainability, Mike Moracco.
“And we’ve consulted with the town engineer and it’s unanimous — nobody thinks it’s a good idea to put any money in this building,” Schultz said.
He advised against spending money on fixing the roof if the town plans to then look at longer-term options such as relocating the maintenance facility.
“That’s not the town’s job, to be the holder of real estate because it may be useful someday,” he said.
Michalenko said he respectfully disagreed.
“That building will be useful in some form or another. That property is integral in our long-term plans,” he said, adding that between the parks and recreation, police, highway and water departments, the town will need the building for storage.
“If parks and rec were to vacate that building, we would have adequate use of that with our other departments,” he said.
The supervisor said he would rather the town commit $99,242 to fixing the roof than allow the building to collapse under its own weight.
“I would love to make this an election issue,” he said, “because I think it’s a wise and prudent use of the taxpayers’ money.”
Mannion said it made sense to award the contract and allow work on the roof to begin.
“If we don’t do this, we’ll have to go out and rent four or five thousand square feet,” he said. “We’re gonna spend that $99,000 in three or four years on going out to rent additional space.”
He added: “We’ve been talking about this building for [years] and we don’t seem to have a plan for it.”
He said he thought the building was adequate for storing equipment.
“It’s a decent building, it’s flooded a few times,” he said. “It stores vehicles inside. There’s no documents on the floor. It’s a garage, really.”
The building, which sits at a lower elevation than the nearby highway garage, is prone to flooding at ground level. Michalenko said it has flooded twice since 2001.
“If you’re gonna sink any money into this building, fix everything, not just the roof,” Albanese said. “If you’re gonna do it, do the whole job completely.”
Michalenko promised to pursue the flooding issue at its base.
“I believe the flooding can be mitigated in that area,” he said. “It’s a man-made impediment that’s causing the flooding … the railroad trestle is holding back water.”
Ned Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.