The town of Rotterdam will use funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to buy land for a town park and to pay for the cost of renovating the old Kmart at the Viaport Rotterdam for town office space.
The board voted 4-0 to use almost $1.5 million in ARPA funds for the two projects. Board member Samantha Miller-Herrera abstained from the vote but declined to explain.
The town signed a 10-year lease on Nov. 2 for the old Kmart space and would pay $8 per square foot for 50,000 square feet of space.
The lease agreement calls for a $1 million security deposit which the town plans to pay for with ARPA funding.
The town had said the $1 million deposit would be “invested in the required retrofitting and upgrading of the space, including improving court function and safety of the police department and justice court.”
Board member-elect Joe Mastroianni asked the board to hold off on approving the funds during the public comment period at the town’s board meeting Wednesday night.
“It’s a little disconcerting,” Mastroianni said about the project.
More information should be made available to determine whether the move is the most fiscally responsible decision, he said. Voting to spend money on the Viaport project and the park at the same meeting where a public hearing was held regarding exceeding the state’s tax cap does not make sense, Mastroianni said.
“It doesn’t seem prudent when we’re in a tough financial situation to then be spending money we could be using toward infrastructure projects,” he said.
Deputy Supervisor Evan Christou reiterated his stance on supporting the move.
“These buildings are in shambles,” he said of the town’s current quarters.
Repairs at town hall would cost around $1 million — including $600,000 for the roof, Christou said.
The new location would create more efficiency among town departments, he said.
Board member Joe Guidarelli said it would save the town money because items like office equipment would be centrally located for use by all departments rather than having multiple pieces of office equipment like printers.
The move also has the potential to bring more people to the Viaport, Signore said. People visiting and working at town hall might be more inclined to stay and check out businesses at the facility, Guidarelli said. He also said more businesses might be interested in filling spaces in the building if they see people coming to visit the town hall.
Another $475,000 would be used to buy 212 Phillips Road for parkland and to make park improvements.
Supervisor Steven Tommasone said the town has heard for years that it needed a park on that side of town and 212 Phillips Road was the perfect plot of land.
The land could be subdivided and sold for redevelopment, with 38 acres left for a town park.