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Massena Town Council opens bidding on infrastructure repairs

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MASSENA - Town officials have voted to solicit bids for infrastructure improvement projects that could come with an estimated price tag in the $2.3 million range.

The Massena Town Council voted unanimously at its meeting this week to seek bids for projects to repair the facade and fronts steps at the Massena Town Hall, address issues with the parking lots outside the town hall, construct a new hangar at the Massena International Airport and repair the town’s Highway Department barn.

If the town chooses to go ahead on all aspects of every project, it may end up costing the town more than $2 million. However, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray pointed out if the town doesn’t have the funds it could choose to not accept bids for some aspects of the projects. Some of the work could be done in phases over a period of time, he said.

The most expensive project are the repairs at the highway department barn, estimated at $1.87 million. “There’s extensive, extensive renovations (needed to be done) to the town highway garage, everything from mechanicals to roofing to asbestos abatement and huge aesthetics improvements,” Mr. Gray said.

Councilman Robert Cunningham was initially hesitant to vote yes on the motion, citing the high cost of the project during difficult fiscal times for the town. “I just can’t see us spending $1.8 million to revitalize that building,” he said.

Highway Superintendent Frank Diagostino pointed out the town could choose to fund only portions of the proposed repairs if they decide they do not have the funding at this point in time.

“You may say, ‘OK, at this point in time we can’t afford (all the maintenance work), put in a new entrance, put a new roof on it, insulate it and put in a new floor,’ and that’s what you do,” Mr. Diagostino said. “I’m not saying everything on that list needs to be done. If you can’t (afford it) ,obviously you can’t.”

Mr. Diagostino also said better insulation could save the town on the costs of heating the barn over time.

The town hall upgrades are estimated to cost $453,000, with approximately $323,000 of that going toward repairs to the building’s crumbling facade and front steps.

“The mortar is failing. You have chunks of mortar falling off the building. No one’s been hit yet, thankfully. Obviously we need serious repairs to the front of the town hall,” Mr. Gray said.

He said estimates to repair the town hall may be “a little fat” to compensate for the unknowns that may be unearthed once crews remove the front steps for renovations.

The parking lot around the town hall needs repairs to fill potholes and address issues of water drainage, Mr. Gray said. The town is also bidding work to reshingle the roof over the Massena Police Department entrance.

Originally to be included in the bids was a $20,000 in security upgrades, such as the installation of security cameras and key-card entry to the main doors.

However, some town officials objected to the proposed security upgrades, saying they were an unnecessary expenditure, because the police station is located below the town offices.

The town will also begin bidding on work to construct a 12,000 square foot airplane hangar that could accommodate six smaller planes and two larger ones. Massena already received a $759,000 state grant in 2011 to construct the hangar, which requires an additional $134,100 local contribution.

To help fund the work, the town council voted to refinance more than $2 million in outstanding bonds, which is projected to save the town $129,000 in interest costs over the next 15 years after factoring in the fees incurred from refinancing. “There will were still be significant savings after the fees. It’s just the cost of doing business,” Mr. Gray said.

The town originally planned to refinance its bonds in conjunction with Massena Memorial Hospital, which could see savings of almost $800,000 over 15 years in interest costs. However, MMH officials would prefer to wait until later this year to refinance its bonds in order to avoid the fees of refinancing the bonds before they mature, according to Mr. Gray.

Previously, Mr. Gray had planned to include repairs to the town hall roof in the bidding. Earlier this year, town officials noticed roof issues that caused leaking into the town court offices.

But Mr. Diagostino recently reached out to the contractor that installed the roof, RSI Roofing, Inc., based out of Gouverneur, which repaired the roof at no cost to the town because the roof was still under the 15-year warranty promised by the contract.

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