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Little progress for new Morristown town hall

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MORRISTOWN — Despite having purchased land three years ago to accommodate it, a new town hall is likely years away, according to Supervisor Frank L. Putman.

“We really haven’t made much progress in a couple of years,” Mr. Putman said.

When preliminary discussions for a new building began in early 2008, town officials fast-tracked the project in hopes of getting federal stimulus funding to pay for it, Mr. Putman said. The town board approached Karl O. Bender of AOK Engineering, Ogdensburg.

An 8,700-square-foot facility, Mr. Bender said, would provide approximately twice as much floor space as the current town office space at 604 Main St. and cost about $2.4 million.

In February 2009, the town purchased 8.3 acres of land on Main Street from Aaron and Albert McDonald for $25,000, still believing that construction would soon occur. By September 2010, and with hopes for stimulus funding all but gone, the board invited Mr. Bender back to discuss a scaled-down building plan.

AOK’s estimates for a building of 4,000 to 8,000 square feet ranged from $760,000 to just over $1.5 million.

Over the past two years, Mr. Putman said, a lack of funding has forced the project to the back burner.

“We purchased the land because of the shovel-ready mode we were in during 2008 for the stimulus money, plus this location is sewer and water ready,” he said. “Phase two — no more stimulus, but I’m still happy we bought the land. It will never depreciate, and it’s something we can leave for future boards to have in their arsenal. It’s like the first step for something that could be a few years in the future.”

Before any progress is made, he said, the public will be consulted.

“There are no monies we see out there that anyone’s been able to put their hands on. As far as putting a burden on the taxpayers, I am not interested in putting anything like that forward for them,” Mr. Putman said. “If no structure comes about during my tenure, we’ve passed the property along at least. There is a location if it’s ever a reasonable, cost-efficient and community-supported venture.”

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