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Harrietstown prioritizes town hall upgrades

May 18, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The Harrietstown town board met Tuesday to prioritize the list of repairs and upgrades its planning for the town hall.

Using a two-page spreadsheet, Deputy Supervisor Barry DeFuria, Councilmen Ron Keough and Bob Bevilacqua ranked all the potential projects the town is considering based on an assessment of the building conducted last year by North Woods Engineering of Saranac Lake. Town Budget Officer Mike Kilroy, Code Enforcement Officer Ed Randig, Building and Grounds Supervisor John Wheeler and Joe Garso of North Woods also took part in the discussion.

The town is planning to bond or borrow money to pay for the upgrades. Cost estimates have ranged from $700,000 to $1.25 million, and Tuesday's meeting was the first step in more specifically identifying the scope and cost of the project.

Article Photos

Cracked masonry in the Harrietstown Town Hall was rated as a high priority for repair by the Harrietstown town board this week.
(Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)

At the top of the priority list is replacement of a retaining wall along the Saranac River that was damaged in the spring 2011 flood, and related work in that area. North Woods has estimated the project could cost $365,000.

Right behind it is repairing and replacing damaged sections of the building's exterior masonry. Repairs have been estimated at $150,000, although that amount could change because the extent of the damage to the building's brick facade in some areas is unknown.

Another top priority is resolving a water infiltration problem in a vault that stores town records, along with reconfiguring and removing overhead pipes from another records storage area under the auditorium stage to protect it from possible water damage.

At one point the board discussed an idea of Wheeler's to add a second story over the town hall board room and use it as a records storage area, but Garso said it would be less expensive for the town to renovate and use the space it already has.

Further down the priority list are repairs to the railing and steel frame in the clock tower, upgrades to the building's bathrooms and repairs to the chairs in the auditorium balcony, many of which are ripped or have come unattached from the floor. Some town officials felt they should budget money to repair 10 to 20 chairs each year, while others felt the work should be included in the bond issuance.

"Boards change," Keough said. "You can plan to do 20 seats each year, but if the board changes, they might not want to do that and then you're stuck. I think would be in the best interest of the town to look at this, and if we're going to do what needs to be done with the building, take a look at what it's going to cost to do all those seats up there, do it through the bond and be done with it."

Keough also suggested asking groups that hold regular events in the auditorium to contribute to upgrading the seats.

Replacing the windows around the auditorium was put low on the list of priorities, in part because it will take so long to recoup the cost through the energy savings from new windows. Town officials also expressed concern about uncovering asbestos, and what that would add to the cost of the project, if the windows are replaced.

"I think it should be done, but I think it should be on the bottom of your list," Kilroy said. "The payback is terrible, but I think it should be done."

Now that the board has identified its priorities, Garso will be working to refine his cost estimates so the town can decide what it can afford and secure the necessary financing. Town officials are hoping that some of the work, particularly the replacement of the retaining wall, can be done this year.

"Whatever we're going to do, we better get going pretty quick, or we're going to run out of construction time," DeFuria said.



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