ROTTERDAM — The Town Board will hold a special meeting later this month to discuss plans to relocate town offices to a former Kmart facility at the ViaPort shopping mall.
Supervisor Mollie Collins, at a board meeting last week, said the July 27 meeting will provide residents with an overview of a 10-year lease agreement the town signed last November to relocate its current Town Hall at 1100 Sunrise Blvd. and police and court operations along Princetown Road to a 50,000-square-foot space at ViaPort that once housed a Kmart.
Renderings of the upgraded facility and a cost-analysis of the move will be provided at the meeting, Collins said.
“Anyone that has questions about the move to the ViaPort, please make sure you’re here on the 27th,” she said.
Under the lease agreement, the town will pay $8 per square foot for the 50,000-square-foot space, which will be spread out over 12-monthly installments. Negotiations to rent the space began last summer.
Town officials have said the existing Town Hall has a number of outstanding issues and repairs would cost around $1 million. The existing police department and court facility are also too small, according to officials.
Last year, the town allocated $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding as a deposit to secure the new space. The town has said the 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.”
The town’s move to the old Kmart facility, which closed in 2018 amid financial straits, has been criticized by residents in recent months over a lack of transparency and a perceived waste of federal coronavirus-relief dollars.
Several residents criticized the move again last Wednesday, including Brenda Torosian, who presented Town Board members with a petition made up of signatures of dozens of residents opposed to the move.
Torosian questioned why ARPA dollars were being used to relocate town offices instead of upgrading aging water infrastructure, a longstanding problem in town, and questioned why town officials haven’t looked into upgrading the existing facilities.
She added that she has spoken with a number of residents who have said they would not take their children to ViaPort if police and court operations are moved there out of safety concerns, and noted that the town should not be looking to “bailout” the shopping mall.
“We are a government agency. We are not in business to bailout ViaPort. We are not in that business,” Torosian said.
The July 27 special meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at Town Hall at 1100 Sunrise Blvd.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.