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Massena Village Planning Board approves SeaComm expansion


MASSENA — After dodging multiple obstacles on various occasions, the SeaComm Federal Credit Union expansion project has officially been given the stamp of approval by the village Planning Board.

The project will consolidate the group’s Andrews Street offices and Main Street branch into the Stearns Street headquarters.

In March, SeaComm President and Chief Executive Officer Scott A. Wilson and engineer Thomas Pahler met with the village Planning Board to provide updates on the projects.

“Basically what we’re doing is, we’re going to add two stories. Here we have the footprint of the existing building and it’s an L-shape,” Mr. Pahler said last month. “What’s going to really happen is, (the lobby portion) will be taken out because the foundations were set up for only one story, and we’ve got to go two stories. So we’re almost obligated to have to take the whole excavation down to the foundations and bring it up so it will support these stories.”

The duo also met with the St. Lawrence County Planning Board earlier this month to review their plans were, and the county board recommended some modifications to the plan.

Given the county’s recommendations, the village’s Planning Board needed to pass the initial site plan by a supermajority — a majority of the board plus one.

The county Planning Board also had questions about the number of employees at the new branch.

Mr. Wilson had said in the past that the expansion would create about 50 construction jobs and 18 full-time jobs, while also retaining 106 positions.

“The reality today would be at the maximum of 75 to 80 based on our projections and the reality is that as electronic services continue to tak eover, possibly less than that. It’s all contingent on a lot of business factors. But it certainly won’t exceed 100,” Mr. Wilson said.

The expansion is projected to cost $5.8 million and will result in the closing of SeaComm’s Main Street branch and Andrews Street office space. P.W. Campbell of Pittsburgh, Pa., will be the building’s design firm.

“We revisited the site plan, and we read (the county’s) accounts and there are three major points out there — one was parking, one was the landscaping and one was with the downcast lighting. The downcast lighting issue had already been addressed. That was on the previous plan and that was taken care of,” Mr. Pahler said. “But we did revisit the site plan and we reduced the parking considerably. We were at 161 cars initially with our original site plan and we took it down to 129.

“You’ll notice there’s one entire lane completely gone and so that also reduced the lighting a little bit too because now we only have four lights. What we also did was we took the retaining wall, which is entirely inevitable, and we pushed it away from the (property) a bit more, thus trimming off a couple of lots right up on the top side of all this. That’s how we got to the 129.”

The engineer added that the overall footprint of the building has shrunk considerably and the original projection of one acre of land has decreased by 7,000 to 8,000 square feet.

The Stearns Street location will receive an additional 15,870 square feet of space to accommodate the merger with the 79 Main St. branch, Call Center and additional staff necessary to support the expanded service offerings and regulatory requirements.

Mr. Pahler pointed out in March that the group’s goal is to have all of the construction done by December.

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