An Informational Meeting on the new Town Hall/Community Center was held on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 7:30 PM in the Town Hall on Broadway in Port Ewen, New York with the following persons in attendance:
Supervisor Ray Rice
Councilman Gloria VanVliet
Absent: Councilman Wayne Freer
Absent: Councilman Michael Lange
Councilman Ernie Germano
Recording Administrator: Diane L. McCord, RMC
Architect Dennis Suraci
Daily Freeman Reporter, Hallie Arnold
This is an informational meeting on the proposed Town Hall.
“This is the first and only Town Hall Esopus has ever had -- it was purchased in 1946 for $12,000. This building has been a dance hall, a restaurant, a bus-garage and a Model T dealership at one time. It’s had a number of prior lives and has served the town quite well as a Town Hall. Over the years there have been a number of renovations which have both increased and diminished the utility of this building. As an example of how the utility of the building has been diminished by the renovations; there are three and possibly four roofs over the Town Court – which results in a situation which allows water to drip into the court whenever we have a hard rain.
This building is cramped – you can see that file cabinets, office equipment and voting machines have to be stored in the public space in this room. There is virtually no insulation in the building or windows so our energy costs are unusually high – combined with the fact that the overall layout of the building does not contribute to energy efficiency.
We all knew that this building would have to be replaced, but we also knew that it would be a considerable time before the taxpayers could afford to pay for the replacement, so in 1998 I started a capital reserve account for Town Hall replacement and Town Boards since that time have periodically transferred excess funds until we had accumulated $450,000.
DOT 9W Renovation
In 2003 the NYSDOT came to the Town with a plan for renovating Rt. 9W which included realigning the Salem Street intersection. The realignment will require the taking of our Town Hall. Because Rt. 9W is a Federally designated highway, the removal of our town hall qualifies us for a program known as “functional replacement”. Under this program we will be reimbursed for the replacement cost of our current structure – rather than the appraised value of the building - a very significant difference.
Based on the agreement with the DOT the Town contracted with an architect for a needs assessment to examine all the functional areas of the Town Hall and determine our space requirements, bring the facility up to current standards, and provide growth space for the next 20 years.
Evaluation of various sites
In parallel with needs assessment, the Town Board evaluated about a dozen potential sites for a Town Hall, throughout the Town. The Board narrowed down the number of sites and contracted for an evaluation of four sites and a feasibility study of the most promising site, the four acre Spinnenweber donation. The result of the feasibility study was a proposal for a 21,000 square foot building which included 2,400 square feet devoted to a community center and senior citizens center.
Utilizing the architectural feasibility study and needs assessment, we negotiated with the state for a commitment of funds for the functional replacement of the Town Hall. The result of that negotiation was the commitment by the state to pay the town $2,676,810 towards the replacement of our Town Hall. This reflects a willingness by the state to pay for about 11,000 square feet – which is for functional replacement. The state is in no way obligated to pay for space for future growth or for space for a community center/senior citizens center – the cost for that space is our responsibility.
Town Hall vs. Community space
Community space is a very important function of this Town Hall - Town Hall facilities are utilized by community groups virtually seven days a week - seniors, AARP, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, athletic groups, homeowners associations – all kinds of fund raisers – I’m sure that this is the Penny Social Center of the Universe. I can’t think of any other building in our community which is available to such a number of diverse groups. Fire halls and churches provide a similar function – but they tend to be rather parochial about who can use their facilities. Our Town Hall, on the other hand, belongs to our entire community and is utilized, without charge, by an infinite number of groups. I can’t stress enough the importance of providing quality community space in our new Town Hall.
Public Information Meeting
I have laid our the drawings and conceptual views of the proposal which was the output of the feasibility study. I want to stress that this is a feasibility study which shows how our required space could be packaged – this is by no stretch of the imagination the final plan.
Request Architects Proposals
Our next step will be to request design proposals from architects, select an architect and a design, and solicit bids for construction.
Based on the current estimates derived from the feasibility study it will be necessary for the Town to go to bond for approximately 1.6 million dollars to cover the cost of our future Town Hall and community center space.
I have contacted the firm which has handled bonding for the Town in the past for information about the current municipal bond market and determined that going to bond for 1.6 million would cost the town approximately $120,000 per year for twenty years. This translates to .21 per 1,000 of assessed value – for example a $100,000 property would see a $21 tax increase per year for the twenty year period. To put this in proper context, this is a 0.6% increase in property taxes. (Library is $.33 per 1,000)
Senator Larkin and Assemblyman Cahill have both committed member item grants of $50,000 for our Town Hall. NYSERDA energy conservation grants are available which could cover up to 20% of the heating, cooling, insulation, and lighting construction costs. There are a number of ways to reduce the construction costs: for example: utilizing town employees and equipment for some of the site preparation and paving where possible (the general fund would reimburse the highway department for the work – but this would be much cheaper than a contractor) – another example would be to utilize alternative sentencing crews and prison crews for painting and landscaping tasks – we have used these crews in the past with great success.”
Barbara Patrick: I would like to pass around a three page article showing a foundation with a method of insulated concrete forms which are great for saving energy and she is using this in the new house she is having constructed. There are any number of manufacturers for this product. If you use it for the entire building you can save compared to a stick built building. If you have any questions, I live in the Village of Esopus on Parker Lane and you are welcomed to see the foundation.
Bernie Cokely: Bernie asked where the rest of the Council people were? Supervisor Rice answered Councilman Michael Lange had been attending Fire Training School and graduation will be tomorrow. Councilman Wayne Freer will be here later for he had another meeting.
Anne Gordon: In the plans for the Town Hall there is increased space for the Sheriff’s Sub-station. Are they planning to hold prisoners overnight and if so I see the Senior Citizens and the Community Room are on the same floor, what about security? Supervisor Rice answered there will be a number of changes with the Sheriff’s Substation. After further discussion with the Sheriff they will be happy with a lot less space. That may be a situation where we can save some money and divert some of that space to the Community Center. The holding area in our present substation is an iron ring in the wall. There are showers in the present Town Hall for personnel and there will be showers in the new Town Hall.
Bob Richter: Looking at the plan are we planning to put a red light at the entrance to the complex for it looks dangerous? Supervisor Rice said we are still negotiating with the DOT. There are a couple ways the State may handle that. There may be a divided highway and a no left turn. Would there be a U-turn somewhere? This plan has not been worked out yet. The DOT is reluctant to put lights in but that may be what it comes to. The State bases there lights on body counts.
Dennis Suraci: The architect did check the distance from the curb cut over the hill and it is more than adequate for the site distance....it is over 560 feet.
Bob Richter: If you have many cars, after a meeting like this, it would be a problem.
Jack Cleary - Port Ewen Fire Dept. and a resident of Port Ewen: When we met with the engineer of the Rt. 9W Development Project we were told placing a light anywhere in Town was not feasible so that definitely will not happen. Site distance might be enough for the state but if anyone ever watched traffic going past there cars travel at more than 45 MPH and that is a definite concern as a resident and as a member of the Fire Dept. Supervisor Rice agreed.
Bob Richter: What is the name of the street, the other entrance? Bowne Street will be an emergency entrance and exit. It will be closed to local traffic.
Jack Cleary - speaking as a Resident of Bowne St.: As a member of the Fire Dept. I am concerned about a second means of egress. As a resident, how is it to be gated? Will it take emergency personnel ten minutes to get in? Supervisor Rice answered it will only be a plastic chain, nothing more sophisticated..
Debbie Silvestro: This is a very large piece of property. How close does it come to Mt. View Avenue? Will there be another exit through that? Not really.
Susan Kowatch: You had talked about making the road one way down Bowne
St. Supervisor Rice answered if it were an emergency entrance it
would make no difference if it were one way.
Supervisor Rice did not remember any discussion over Bowne St. being one way just that it would be an emergency exit.
Barbara Patrick: Before making a final decision will you put out to bid more than one design? Will there be a bid out to whoever wants to submit? Supervisor Rice believed that would be the approach the Board would take. We have not decided on an architect to do the final design. Mr. Suraci was hired to do the feasibility study and the site evaluation. I don’t care about his design said Barbara Patrick. Councilman VanVliet asked what Barbara Patrick did not like? She stated there were a lot of cut up rooms, little rooms here and there and there is a separate court room and a separate senior center and there is a room upstairs and a lot of space that is duplicated. There are bathrooms all over the place and what you would have to do is lock them and have a key available for whoever wants to use them because how can you watch them in this day and age? Who wants to go into one of these places and find somebody in there. I don’t know who put this together. I called Ernie this morning to look at what I am doing because I think that is the way we should do it. I think there are any number of things we should do whether it is heating etc., looking forward to what we are doing in the future. I don’t want to see us going back to the past. I am glad to see the Town doing this and you should go forward but it should be a better plan than that.
Bob Richter: Has there been an evaluation of the land, test boring? Supervisor Rice said it has already been done.
Roscoe Pecora: With regard to the literature Barbara Patrick pasted around. Recently, she invited us down to look at her property and we found it very interesting. Is this in the plans that Dennis Suraci has been working on? No, it is not. How far have you have you pursued anything with NYCERTA? Supervisor Rice stated we needed to have more of a concrete design and that should be happening very soon. A lot of this had been delayed until we took title to the property because I was reluctant to spend any money until we had the title. Regarding experience with the Library Roscoe Pecora gave a dissertation on the estimated cost of the geo-thermal heating and the associated bids. Supervisor Rice asked for a copy of the related correspondence with NYCERTA and what they are will to pay?
Barbara Patrick: I would suggest you talk with people over at BARD College. Who is deciding what the building will look like? Supervisor Rice answered the Town Board.
Debbie Silvestro: I share a concern about this incredibly large building cut up into small rooms and it seems to me that the next architect should consider multi-purpose rooms with curtains to make the rooms larger and smaller. The intent, stated the Supervisor, to have the major meeting rooms divisible into smaller rooms. Councilman VanVliet believed on the current plan there are meeting rooms that can be opened or closed.
Joe Sills: In his personal opinion, it is absolutely ridiculous to take a public street right in the middle of a community and close it when you have a Community Center sitting right there and then you expect everyone in the community to go out onto busy 9W in order to have access and egress. One of the hopes of having the Community Center was to have it in the center of the community and now we will eliminate the community by placing it on 9W, I do not think that is smart just as a safety concern.
As the future develops and people use the community center for sports you certainly do not want them to go out onto 9W in order to have access to that property, especially when that street is right in the middle of it. I do not agree with the fact that the street should be closed and used only as an emergency entrance or exit closing it off to the entire community.
The other thing, on the design of the building, there are many people who would like to see as much of the Town Hall facility used as a multiple use facility along with the community center. Could it be arranged that both the Community Center and the Town Hall be constructed on one level and have the community room utilized by both factions. The downstairs section could be used by the courtroom or the Sheriff and used for the Town Clerk’s archival records. I have great admiration for Mr. Suraci but I don’t admire this design structure for its’ height is too big and we do not need anything more than one story. It will not be functional. There should be a wing for the Town Offices and a wing for the Community Center and a Community room in between the two. Supervisor Rice said there are pros and cons to both approaches. A multi floor building is much more energy efficient but as you state there are compelling reasons to have it on a single floor.
Bob Richter: Is the Town Board thinking of fifty years hence? Supervisor Rice answered this plan should last for thirty to fifty years hence. There is expansion space.
Tom Carpino: If there are no bumps in the road, when would this Town Hall be in place? Supervisor Rice said the Town did not have firm dates, the DOT did have firm dates. What he would like to do is to be in a position to go to bid by late summer or early fall. That would mean we could possibly break ground this year. As far as the DOT schedule is concerned they will start in April of 2006 and the renovations of Rt. 9W will be done in a phases. The portion north of the Town Hall will be one phase, the portion south of the Town Hall will be the second phase and this intersection would be the third phase. Tom Carpino stated that the present Board may not be the Board voting on this? That was affirmed by the Supervisor.
Larry VanVliet: You have put a figure out as 1.6 million for a possible number. My experience has been when you go for energy efficient types of materials higher costs prevail initially to implement it and the state is not real generous in funding monies for efficiency. The only savings is in ten or twenty years down the line. After investigating these methods when building it did not pay to do it and it could delay the construction project. Also along those lines does the 1.6 million include the site preparation. Yes, answered the Supervisor, it covered all the costs except furnishing the building and that it the sort of thing that could be phased in over a longer period of time.
Susan Kowatch: Susan Kowatch was concerned with drainage which Supervisor Rice said was taken into consideration. Susan Kowatch continued when construction starts where are the vehicles enter and exit the site and stated some of the other sites are more feasible and not as much of a safety concern getting in and out of 9W which is such a dangerous place and not very visible from the road.
Roscoe Pecora: Where are we on the estimates......are we using $200 a sq. ft ? Supervisor Rice answered it was in the $200 range exclusive of site work. Roscoe asked if there were any contingency in that number? There is some fat but much.
Sal Silvestro: How does the new Town Hall meeting room compare to this one? Supervisor Rice thought it would be bigger. In this room there is a lot of dead space. Dennis Suraci said the room would be this size but it could be opened up larger.
Larry VanVliet: I was on the Town Board when we got rid of the town constables, Supervisor Rice interrupted and saluted Larry VanVliet for all the dollars that have been saved. Larry continued, over the last twenty years we have saved the town millions and millions of dollars and we should maintain the space that was allocated for the police room