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Amsterdam, NY ,

Alissa Scott/Recorder staff City engineer Richard Miller discussed several projects with the Amsterdam Common Council Tuesday night, leaving only a brief amount of time for Ray Halgas, general foreman of the Department of Public Works.

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Council discusses capital projects

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

Recorder News Staff

Three aldermen and Mayor Ann Thane met to discuss capital projects in the Common Council Chambers Tuesday night, a discussion that has been ongoing for weeks. Joe Isabel, 1st Ward Alderman, and Valerie Beekman, 2nd Ward Alderwoman, were not in attendance, though the Council waited 10 minutes for them to arrive.

City engineer Richard Miller discussed several projects, in ranking of priority, he had presented to the council earlier, as well as provided them with a detailed booklet outlining each job.

A parking lot extension project at the Public Safety building will cost $50,000. Miller said the parking lot needs to be extended because Police Chief Greg Culick told him there are few parking spots when court is in session because confiscated cars take up much of the lot.

Dave Dybas, 3rd Ward Alderman, said he doesn't think this is a matter to discuss during the special committee meeting.

"That's a policy and procedure, not a capital project," Dybas said. "That's a policy and procedure as to where employees should park rather than $50,000 to store vehicles."

It was not approved by the council because Culick was not present during the discussion and questions were raised that Miller was unable to answer.

A sewer project on Academy Street was completed with $200,000. Miller said, "it wasn't something to mess with."

An above ground tank project, deemed a No. 1 priority by Miller, has jumped from a $100,000 estimate to a $150,000 estimate. So far, Miller said, crews found a pile of contamination on the tank's platform. It has all been excavated and stock piled, but they will have to pay an additional fee for excavation, disposal, an investigation at the request of the Disaster Preparedness Commission and to create a control plan.

Miller said they will not be going to bid for the remaining work because they have a limited time frame. The investigation and control plan will cost between $15,000 and $16,000, Miller said.

The demolition budget for structures around the city has some funding left in it after a project on Forest Avenue received a drastically lower bid than estimated.

Miller suggested other properties he deems worthy of demolition. Dybas requested that Miller create a database of properties that need to be torn down so the Council can accurately reserve money for those projects, instead of bonding $1 million for a $393,000 job, as in the Forest Avenue property.

Dybas repeatedly requested paperwork from Miller and asked him to "supply [him] the list," at least 10 times.

Thane said they did have a list and she could provide it for him, but said either way the demolitions are a necessity to cleaning up the city.

"We have plenty of properties that need to come down and I truly think we need to be funding this," Thane said. "We haven't gotten to a point where we have less properties that need to come down."

Miller said of the $500,000 demolition budget, each project costs, on average, $30,000. That leaves money for about 15 to 16 homes a year, but that number can be increased when there are fires, such as on Kline Street last week.

A recommendation from Rob Van Hasseln was read by Thane. Hasseln said he suggests that City Hall remains in its current location, rather than paying costs for a rental location and transportation fees, because of structural damage.

Leggiero said he ranked this project a 10, the lowest priority, and Dybas said he needed to see a report on the costs before he could make a decision.

"We all talk about how we need to maintain properties around the city and we're all expected to keep the houses up," Thane said. "But for some reason, City Hall is different and I don't understand it. Why should we not be responsible to maintain this structure?"

Miller said a historical report is needed because City Hall, the former Sanford Home, is a historical structure. Materials to repair the structure need to be exact or close to the materials already in place, which will increase the costs of the project.

"If I find out it's going to cost $1 million just to keep it historically correct, I ain't doing it," Dybas said.

Thane asked the council to at least approve some of the money because it is "responsible stewardship" of the building. The council decided to wait for the historic report to be completed, which Thane said could take another couple months.

Thane said she will be contacting them Friday.

After asking if Miller was finished with his presentation, Dybas left after him. This knocked the Council out of quorum, with only two aldermen residing.

The Council allowed the two remaining presenters to distribute information, though they didn't make any decisions about whether to include them in their capital projects list.

General foreman of the Department of Public Works in Amsterdam Ray Halgas said he requested, of utmost priority, an additional truck for the sewage department. The truck is over 10 years old.

Chief Culick, who showed up after Miller discussed the parking lots at the Public Safety building, reported an estimate for computer rewiring.

The remaining council members, Thane, DeRossi and Leggiero, set another committee meeting, tentatively, for July 23 at 6:30 p.m.

     

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