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Old fire station antenna tower removal postponed

The old fire station/new village hall building on Fennell Street has a defunct 95-foot communications antenna, center, that needs to be removed. It is a dangerous job, however, and the village board wants the work done by professionals. The structure standing above the building to the left is the old whistle.

The old fire station/new village hall building on Fennell Street has a defunct 95-foot communications antenna, center, that needs to be removed. It is a dangerous job, however, and the village board wants the work done by professionals. The structure standing above the building to the left is the old whistle.

— Removal of the defunct antenna tower from the old Fennell Street fire station by an independent contractor, which was approved by the village board at its June 14 meeting, has been called off after the village attorney refused to authorize the contract.

Village Attorney Michael J. Byrne “could not in good conscience” approve the contract with TCT Tower Services because the company has no workers’ compensation insurance and the possible liability to the village would be too great, said Village Trustee Jim Lanning.

The antennae removal was to be another step in renovating the old fire station to create the new village hall. The village board approved the TCT Tower Services bid of $2,800 for the antennae removal contingent upon Byrne’s review and approval of the TCT Tower Services liability insurance.

It turns out that TCT Tower Services owners are also its workers and so have no workers’ compensation insurance. For private projects that is typically acceptable, but for a municipal contract the liability was too great, said Lanning, who is also on the board’s village hall renovation committee.

The committee and the village board are now “tossing around ideas again” as to how to safely remove the antenna tower, Lanning said. There was a second bidder for the project, which was more expensive and required the village to supply a crane for the work, and the board is currently investigating that company’s liability insurance.

The tower has been on the building since about 1963, is rusty and disintegrating, and its removal will be dangerous work that must be contracted out to a professional tower removal company, the board previously agreed.

On a more positive note, at the village hall renovation committee’s weekly meeting of June 18, the committee pursued some “green” ideas for the new village hall that would make building more energy efficient and perhaps also generate some grant funding for the project. The ideas include energy-efficient insulation, lights and possibly solar panels, Lanning said.

The project architect, Connie Brace of QPK Design, is also looking at creating a more energy efficient design, Lanning said.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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