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Massena approves bonding to repair town hall

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MASSENA - Town officials have decided to move ahead with approximately $350,000 in renovation work to the Massena Town Hall’s facade, front steps and parking lot.

In a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, Councilman John F. Macaulay and Councilman Albert N. Nicola voted unanimously to approve resolutions to bond for $185,000 for improvements to the town hall’s facade and front steps, and $168,000 for improvements to the parking lot. Mr. Gray said he held the impromptu meeting in order to quickly pass the resolutions and move ahead on work, which he would like finished this year.

“We wanted to do it as soon as possible, rather than wait until the (Massena) town council meeting. We thought we’d like to get the ball rolling today,” Mr. Gray said.

Councilman Charles A. Raiti and Robert Cunningham were not available at the time of the meeting.

The work will address the town hall’s crumbling facade and front steps, and the parking lot around the town hall needs repairs to fill potholes and address issues of water drainage, Mr. Gray said.

“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 previously.

Mr. Gray said low interest rates make it favorable to bond sooner rather than hold off on the work, which will be partially funded through $150,000 from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. That money will be split into a $75,000 grant for the work, and a $75,000 low-interest loan to the town, Mr. Gray said.

At next week’s meeting, the town council will discuss its options to either renovate or replace a Highway Department barn suffering from a number of structural issues, according to Mr. Gray.

“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 previously.

In February the town council voted unanimously to seek bids for projects to repair the facade and fronts steps at the 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.

Previous estimates put that work at $1.87 million, a cost some council members felt was more than the town could reasonably afford to spend.

“I just can’t see us spending $1.8 million to revitalize that building,” Mr. Cunningham said previously.

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.

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