Town to get hall of its own

For generations, this town of mostly wide-open farms and scattered rural residences has handled the
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For generations, this town of mostly wide-open farms and scattered rural residences has handled the business of government from a couple of desks tucked in a corner of the town highway barn.

Justice court and Town Board sessions use space in the firehouse.

By next year, Supervisor Larry Bradt hopes to be able to work out of a brand new 4,350-square-foot multipurpose town hall to be built on a 24-acre field along Crommie Road.

The five-member Town Board voted unanimously Wednesday to proceed with the estimated $1 million project. It will include the town hall and an open-sided community events pavilion on the vacant site, as well as renovations to the nearly 50-year-old Highway Department garage/barn on Route 20.

The vote followed a nearly two-hour public hearing and discussion that drew favorable comments and no opposition from about 20 local residents present.

“You guys struck while the iron is hot,” said Michael Benton, who co-chaired the town’s bicentennial celebration on the Crommie Road site last summer.

“It’s going to be a different town,” he added.

Designed by Cobleskill architect Scott L. Barton, the proposed one-story building is to cost about $620,000, Bradt said.

Another $300,000 or so will go to renovate the town barn, including a new roof and adding about 15 feet to one section.

The money’s already been set aside, Bradt said, including about $1.4 million tucked away over the past 10 years in case the town came up short during a long-running tax assessment lawsuit the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. waged against several towns and school districts in the region.

That case was settled with payment in lieu of taxes agreements in late 2006, freeing up cash, according to Bradt.

Another $400,000 or so was put in a capital reserve fund over the years, he said.

“This [building] project will not affect your taxes because we have the money in the bank,” Bradt told the crowd Wednesday.

That was good news to town Historian Ray Briggs, since he said his family’s lived in Carlisle since 1760.

“That means we’ve been paying taxes longer than anyone else,” Briggs said.

Building a town hall was explored in 1994, said Briggs, who was a member of the building committee at that time.

Because the money is available, the Town Board can authorize the project without a public referendum, said town attorney Raynor Duncombe.

Briggs joined other officials and local residents in describing the crowded conditions and lack of privacy in the current 15-by-15-foot town barn office shared by the town clerk, codes officer and other officials to meet with the public.

The Planning Board rents space in a local church for its sessions.

Records storage is in officials’ homes, and security has long been a problem, particularly for the town court sessions in the firehouse, noted Justice Karen Sisson.

“There’s no place to do your work,” Sisson said. “Attorneys meet in the kitchen.”

When bench conferences are needed during trials, “the jury goes to the kitchen,” she said. “The new building will change all that.”

Barton said the proposed building will include at least six offices and associated storage space, plus a judge’s bench and chambers, a lobby, a kitchette, two restrooms and two meeting rooms, Barton.

A large multipurpose room will have space for about 85 people to gather.

The one-story structure will be built with insulated concrete forms poured on-site. It will be sided with a low-maintenance clapboard-style siding made of fiber-reinforced composite material that Barton said requires little maintenance and has a 50-year life.

The highway garage about a quarter mile away “will be given a face-lift,” said town engineer Ray Beaudoin. He said the existing steel frame is “in very good shape” and reusable. The steel paneled building will be re-roofed and re-sided, he said.

Construction bids will be sought by the end of this month, Barton said. After they are reviewed in August, he estimated the board could award contracts in September.

Construction could start as early as “late summer or early fall,” Barton said. Completion of the projects is expected within a year.

Categories: Schenectady County

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