ANCRAM—If all goes according to plan, Ancram’s highway crew may actually be able to park, service and repair their plow trucks indoors in a heated place of their own this January.
At a special Town Board meeting July 2, the Town Board approved two resolutions that move the long-contemplated idea of a new highway garage another step closer to reality.
All that is needed now is voter approval.
The board approved setting a special election Saturday, August 21, when Ancram voters will go to the polls to decide whether to authorize borrowing up to $400,000 for an addition to and renovation of the existing highway garage at 32 Maple Lane, Ancramdale.
The total project cost is not to exceed $500,000.
The garage will be expanded from its current size of 80 X 32 feet to 80 X 80 feet, a 4,000-square-foot addition.
The proposition asks voters to “authorize the issuance of serial bonds… in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $400,000” to finance the highway garage project.
The three board members present at the special meeting—Supervisor Art Bassin, Councilmen Chris Thomas and Jim Miller—also completed the long form State Environmental Quality Review and issued a finding called a negative declaration, which states that the garage project would have no significant environmental impact.
Supervisor Bassin noted that though the garage is not compatible with the residential or agricultural zoning in the area, it has existed there for 60 years.
The impacts of drainage on the adjacent wetlands were a concern expressed by town Conservation Advisory Board Chair Jamie Purinton at the June 17 Town Board meeting, but Mr. Bassin said at the July 2 meeting that the garage project will improve both storm water drainage and the wetland buffer.
Ms. Purinton previously spoke about the “polluting condition” due to run-off that now exists at the site and the need to maintain the 100-foot wetland buffer zone.
Also at the June meeting, Architect Joe Iuviene, who has been working with the Garage Committee, gave a general project overview. It was Mr. Iuviene who first suggested the idea of saving and adding on to the existing garage instead of tearing it down and building a new structure. The committee also considered ripping down the old Borden Milk Factory on the property to make room for a new garage, but Mr. Iuviene pointed out that in both cases, not only was it cheaper to save the existing structure, but it would also result in a “better building.”
The plan now calls for renovating the milk factory to serve as a salt shed.
“A wood building will last forever if you keep water out so it doesn’t rot. Steel deteriorates—salt and metal do not mix well,” said Mr. Iuviene.
Local contractors can build the wooden garage addition using a pole barn technique, said the architect, noting that repair of a wooden building can be done with a hammer and drill, while working on steel requires welding equipment.
The board approved a standard form contract to work with Mr. Iuviene on the garage project. The contract allows the town to terminate his services in seven days if it sees fit.
The current cost estimate for the addition to and renovation of the highway garage is $428,000, and while the milk factory conversion to a salt shed is not specifically mentioned in the proposition, Mr. Bassin told The Columbia Paper Wednesday that the town estimates that part of the project would cost $45,000, bringing the total project cost to $498,000.
Mr. Bassin estimated that about $50,000 worth of the project work can be done in-house by town Highway Department personnel.
The board wants the option or “financial flexibility” of borrowing up to $400,000 of the project cost because while the town expects to have about $650,000 in the bank that it could spend on the project, the board does not want to let town reserves drop below $300,000 “given the financial condition of the state.”
“We will use as little as we need to get the project done,” said Mr. Bassin.
Resident and former town board member Donna Hoyt expressed concern that by the date of the special election the town will not yet know “the absolute cost” of the new garage and the town board is “not letting people see the project.”
The bid package will be sent out by August 1, with bids due back by the end of the month.
Though all the specifics of the project may not be known by the August 21 vote, the supervisor said that voters will know what the building will look like.
Mr. Bassin said by phone Wednesday that if by chance bids do not come in under $500,000, “we will look at the project components to see what can be re-engineered and re-architected to bring the project in on budget.”
The plan is to get the garage addition up and habitable by the end of the year. If bids are too high and the committee has to adjust some of the project components, the move-in date might be delayed, depending on the scope of the changes, said the supervisor.
Work inside the new structure will be completed after the department moves in.
Voting for the special election will take place only at the Ancram Town Hall from 2 to 9 p.m. No voting will take place at the Ancramdale Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall.