Rotterdam Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone will begin leasing negotiations for the old Kmart space in ViaPort Rotterdam as the town looks at the feasibility of moving town offices into the space.
The board voted 4-0 to allow the supervisor to begin the negotiations, even as the supervisor was absent from the meeting.
The agreement would be to lease the building with the potential to own the building in the future, said town Finance Director Elizabeth Greenwood.
In July the town announced it had hired Albany engineering firm Barton & Loguidice for $32,000 to develop a plan to reconfigure the 80,000-square-foot facility. Greenwood said while she doesn’t have a solid figure at the moment, so far data shows moving into the old Kmart space would save the town money.
“Given the amount of work that was required to make this building habitable, as well as the current police and justice court building it appeared that the fiscally responsible option would be to examine the ViaPort space at the former Kmart as a larger space where both buildings could be combined with the potential for future growth as well,” Greenwood said.
However, the age of the old Kmart is a concern for Rotterdam resident Mollie Collins, who is also running for town supervisor.
“ViaPort was built in 1988, that makes this building 33 years old,” Collins said. “It has been vacant for many years. We all know when property is left vacant it can decay quickly.”
Greenwood said town hall and the police department buildings both need lots of work. She said there are leaks in town hall that would need to be addressed. Those leaks are leading to mold issues. Configuration of the buildings is also another issue. Currently, town court is being held at the Rotterdam Senior Citizens Center because the space is too small in the police department building to meet the 4th Judicial Districts court requirements for COVID.
Collins also raised concerns about the security of the space especially for town court and the police department.
“Ms. Greenwood, have you worked with the Police Department on this transition?” asked board member Samantha Miller-Herrera.
Greenwood said she has been speaking with officials at the police department on what their needs are and they have walked through the space several times.
“The engineer has also been working with them to ensure we meet all their space requirements,” she said. “Because they are so specialized, that’s something that’s very important as we’re starting to work on a plan of how the space can be reconfigured to meet their needs.”
Greenwood also said the town would only look at using around 40,000 square feet of space in the facility — still more square footage than the police department and town hall together, Greenwood said.
She said the town would eventually have the opportunity to purchase all of the space.
Deputy Supervisor Evan Christou said Sen. Michelle Hinchey’s, D-Saugerties, has inquired about potentially having an office in the old Kmart space as well. Her office could not be reached for comment.
After the meeting, town board member Stephen Signore said residents will continue to hear more on the project as it progresses.