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New department of public works building to come

The Athens Village Board discussing moving into a newer building with Athens Village Public Works Superintendent Anthony Proper during a Feb. 28 meeting.
March 13, 2018 11:10 pm

ATHENS — The village Public Works Department building on North Washington Street has seen better days and the village board is considering moving it to an existing, but newer, building on the same street.

The newer building, originally constructed by Peckham Industries, is about 15 years old and, at 8,000 square feet, is more than twice as big as the existing building, Village Mayor Peter Alberti said March 8 at a board meeting. All public works equipment and vehicles can be stored there. Department vehicles are stored in a separate structure.

“It’s not going to be a brand-new building,” Alberti said. “The cost of heating that building will be a good deciding factor.”

The aging public works building has been cited numerous times by the state Department of Labor’s Division of Safety & Health, Alberti said.

“The building right now is not even worth renovating,” he said. “It’s in a real poor location.”

The existing building on North Washington Street was formerly the village office building and court. It became the public works building in the 1960s, Village Clerk Mary Jo Wynne said.

Members of the village board visited the newer building Feb. 24, Alberti said.

“The board was pretty interested in at least taking at look at this because those guys are definitely in need of a new building, at least a newer building,” Alberti said, referring to the DPW. “I think it’s just a lot of elbow grease and cleaning, a little TLC on the building.”

The building appears to be structurally sound, has radiant floor heating and contains a mechanics’ pit in the floor so public works employees can work on trucks, Alberti said. Public Works Superintendent Anthony Proper suggested painting the inside of the building before moving in.

“Some of the minor things were, I noticed some of the insulation was falling down from the ceiling on the corners — an easy fix,” Alberti said.

Concrete should be poured into the building’s pits to create additional floor space to fit more vehicles, Proper said.

“If you want to put the police cars up there also, half of that bay is going to be totally wasted,” Proper said. “You fill it in, you get that whole bay — now you got four full bays, instead of three and a half.”

Alberti talked with Wynne and Village Attorney Tal Rappleyea about financing for moving into the new building. Alberti wouldn’t say how much the project would cost, but he said any decision should be cost-efficient.

“We don’t want to make too many harsh decisions right now,” he said.

Village officials have received some estimates from engineers, but Rappleyea would not reveal them, saying it would be premature to discuss them before any contracts are negotiated.

“The process would be a resolution for the board to proceed with a contract and in that contract we would have a number of different contingences,” Rappleyea said.

Alberti, who researched the cost to construct a new 8,000-square-foot building, said it would cost up to $8,000 for a steel structure alone.

“That’s not including concrete, that’s not including plumbing, that’s not heating, that’s not electric,” Alberti said.

Village officials agreed it would cost significantly more to either renovate the existing building or construct a new building than to acquire the property on North Washington Street, Rappleyea said.

An appraisal is required so the village pays fair market value for the site, Rappleyea said. Money in a capital reserve fund is available to help pay for part of the project, but borrowing has to be authorized for the rest.

“If we do just a bond anticipation notice for five years, we just do our standard financing,” Rappleyea said. “If we can’t shoulder the debt service in five years, then we’ll have to do a longer-term bond.”

Village law authorizes land acquisitions if needed, Rappleyea said.

“In this case we clearly need it,” Rappleyea said. “The current DPW building is falling down around our ears.”

Once the public works department moves out of the existing building, the structure will be sold, Alberti said. North Washington Street is zoned a mixed-use area and an auto repair business or artist’s shop could move into the existing building.

“I think somebody could fix it up,” Alberti said.

Depending on how fast engineering work, appraisal and borrowing is done, renovation of the acquired site and the move out of the old building could start before summer, Alberti said.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM