SARANAC INN - Santa Clara town officials have been using a small room in the town's highway garage and a trailer parked next to it as town hall space, but they're looking to change that.
Councilman David Perry is working with The Wild Center to investigate building a new town hall using as much green technology as possible.
"We would be the only municipality in New York state that would have a totally green building," Perry said at the town's board meeting last week.
The Santa Clara highway garage in Saranac Inn doubles as the town hall, and the trailer next door is used for additional office space. Board members say the space they have is inadequate for their needs.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Perry, a regular Wild Center volunteer, started meeting a number of months ago with Chris Rdzanek, LEED-accredited manager of facilities at the museum, to figure out how to make this happen.
"The Wild Center is committed to promoting sustainable technologies in support of our mission to help 'man and nature thrive together,' and if a group, such as the town, reaches out to us for help and guidance, particularly when it comes to reducing carbon pollution, we are more than happy to get involved," Rdzanek said in an e-mail.
Town Supervisor Mickey Webb said there are a few reasons the town board wanted to take this approach to a new town hall.
The biggest one is money, he said. There is grant money available for green buildings, and the town hopes to take advantage of it.
"We have a need, and without killing taxpayers with a tax increase, we're looking for alternatives," Webb said.
In addition to being cost-effective, a green building would cut down on the town's carbon footprint.
Perry said board members are hoping to use as much green technology as possible in the building, including geothermal, wind, sun and special insulation materials, which could also potentially save the town in the long run on energy costs.
Rdzanek said he's encouraging the board to use passive solar heating, which harvests the sun's heat during the day through strategically placed windows and stores it in some type of thermal mass element like a concrete slab under the structure. A passive solar building is then heated through a network of pipes or ducts in the slab that transfer the stored solar energy into the air.
The new town hall would likely be built at the same location as the current highway garage, since the town owns about 26 acres there, Webb said.
In order to move forward, the town has to present a page-and-a-half position paper to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which would include what the town intends to build and why, and how it would be used.
Perry said he planned to get to work on that as soon as possible, with the help of Rdzanek. Councilman Philip Durkin, who is head of the Building Town Committee, said he would request a copy of the position paper The Wild Center presented when it went after grant funding so the town can get an idea of how to structure it.
"Let's set an example for others to follow if possible," Perry said in an e-mail. "We would like to show others in the frozen north that we can use our natural resources and get off the carbon train, in addition to providing our town and community with much-needed space for our operations in Santa Clara."
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.