Amsterdam mulls moving City Hall

A committee is forming to once again look at the possibility of relocating City Hall.

A committee is forming to once again look at the possibility of relocating City Hall.

The idea came during this year’s tortuous budget process, as members of the Budget Review Committee worked to make up a $1.7 million revenue shortfall.

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, asked each member of the budget committee — which includes Common Council members, Mayor Ann Thane and Controller Heather Reynicke — to nominate one or two people for the City Hall committee.

Riverfront Center lease manager Peter Capobianco is a member of the committee, which hasn’t met yet. He said last week that one of the buildings that could be considered as City Hall’s new location is the former Bank of America building on East Main Street.

The building was recently purchased at auction by Riverfront Center owner John Tesiero, who also owns the former Key Bank building two blocks away.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Capobianco said.

Isabel said the city currently spends about $170,000 per year to maintain City Hall, $60,000 just for electricity. The building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2001, currently needs a new roof and windows. The city recently bonded $250,000 to remove asbestos from the interior, Isabel said.

City Hall is in the old Sanford Mansion, which was purchased by carpet manufacturer Stephen Sanford in 1869. Upon his death, his son, John, inherited the home and expanded and renovated it to its current size and Classical Revival style.

John Sanford donated the building to the city in 1932. Prior to that, city departments were scattered among various rented spaces downtown.

Mayor Ann Thane said the idea of relocating City Hall to a different building has been “bandied about for years” but said every idea that could potentially save the city money should be considered and examined.

Thane had the walls repainted at City Hall and new carpet installed during her first year in office.

Relocating City Hall has been considered most recently in 2005 under Joseph Emanuele’s administration, which authorized an engineering company to draw up specifications for a brand new building.

Government officials also considered moving City Hall to the Riverfront Center in the mid-1990s.

Isabel said he would like to see City Hall downtown and believes the influx of people that would visit City Hall could spur some development in the area.

While the move has been half-heartedly considered in the past, Isabel said the seriousness of the city’s financial situation could lead to more serious talks about relocating City Hall.

Isabel said he hopes to have an organizational committee meeting this month after the city’s 2010-11 budget is adopted.

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