Hudson pays for do-over on police/court center costs

HUDSON–The Common Council has authorized paying the architectural firm that designed the planned new city police and court center an additional $10,500 to obtain costs estimates for the design. The council wants the estimates to determine how to proceed with the project. The city had estimates earlier, but the subsequent construction bid came in almost twice as high.

City officials have said they want a police and court center that will both be more comfortable to work in than the current center on Hudson’s Warren Street and conform to current standards. Plans call for building the new center at the corner of Union and 7th streets, by reconstructing the former Finnish Line Fitness building. Architect Richard Franklin of Sabir, Richardson, and Weisberg Engineers LLC (SRW) designed the new center and the Common Council budgeted $1.7 million to construct it. But when the plan went out to bid, the only whole-project bid received was from Rapp Construction for $3.1 million.

The council agreed to consider another round of bids at a special meeting May 6, but city officials first must see cost estimates of the project by its components, find out what changes could reduce costs and have financing in place.

In an April 27 letter to Hudson Mayor William Hallenbeck, Jr., SRW, the architectural firm, offered to “obtain an objective cost estimate from an estimating firm familiar with this area of New York” and to discuss the results with key players for a fee of $10,500.

At the May 6 special meeting, Common Council President Don Moore said that city Treasurer Heather Campbell will approach financial institutions about short-term financing. In addition, he said, the city is open to alternate financing, including grants and sales. The specific sale under consideration for financing the new police/court center is the city properties that currently house the police and court at 427 and 429 Warren Street. The city would sell the properties on condition that it could rent the space for the police and court from a new owner until the new center is ready. Appraisals of the two buildings had already been ordered and were expected before May 16.

From the audience, Carmine Pierro, former 5th ward alderman and mayor’s assistant said, “Sounds like you’re saying that no matter what the cost is, the project will go ahead.”

Mr. Moore responded, “We’re going ahead.”

“Once [SRW’s] estimate is done, the Common Council will have the ability to vote [the project] down,” noted Ms. Campbell.

“I concur with the treasurer,” said Mayor Hallenbeck. “I’m not committed to the project. First we should see the cost.”

The meeting ended with the Common Council voting to accept SRW’s offer for additional services. But four aldermen voted against doing so: Robert Donahue (R- 5th Ward), Tiffany Garriga (D-2nd Ward), Abdus Miah (D-2nd Ward), and Ohrine Stewart (D-4th Ward).

“I see no reason to vote yes,” said Mr. Donahue, adding that in preparing to submit the project again for bids, “We do something again that we did before.”

Ms. Garriga said she shared Mr. Donahue’s opinion.

Voting yes were Mr. Moore and Aldermen Bart Delaney (R-5th Ward), John Friedman (D-3rd Ward), Henry Haddad (D-3rd Ward), Nick Haddad (D-1st Ward), Alexis Keith (D-4th Ward) and Rick Rector (D-1st Ward).

Ms. Keith said she voted Yes, saying, “I would like to see the cost estimate.”

After the meeting Mr. Donahue told a reporter, “I voted no because I want a new building.”

“It costs more to rehabilitate a building than to put up a new one,” added Mr. Pierro.

Furthermore, Mr. Pierro said, the city had derived its original estimate based on what contractors charge to work on private buildings. With public buildings, he said, construction must follow more regulations, and that drives up the cost.

During the meeting, Mr. Friedman had said that the city had derived its original estimate as “a group of amateurs,” but it now had to face bids submitted by “professionals.”

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