So the plan for Schenectady's Central Park pavilion is to let the leaky, damaged roof continue to rot over the winter — since the summer's halfway over anyway — and maybe do something about it next year?
Doesn't sound like much of a plan to us.
City Council members addressing the problem of pigeon poop inside the building found out that messy birds might be the least of the pavilion's problems. Upon inspecting the structure to see if something could be done to discourage the pigeons, city crews found significant damage to the roof shingles, the wood sheets they're attached to, and even some of the support structure.
The cost to make the repairs, according to an early estimate, is about $120,000.
This all raises some questions.
First, why are city crews only discovering now that the roof was in such poor condition? It's only by the circumstance of the bird-droppings problem that they happened to be up there looking at it. Doesn't anyone even give it a cursory look at it anytime during the year, especially since it's heavily used by summer campers and people rent it for parties and picnics.
Rotting roofs don't happen overnight. This problem had to have been persistent for years. But still, roofs don't last forever, especially in this climate. Where is the city's plan to make inspections and repairs on a regular basis? Doesn't some of the money the city collects on rentals go toward this? The city charges city residents $200 to rent the entire space for four hours; $250 for non-residents on weekdays and $350 on weekends. You can also rent a quarter of the pavilion for about a quarter of the full price.
The city collected nearly $6,000 from pavilion rentals in 2012. It budgeted $10,000 in revenue in 2013's budget and another $9,000 in the 2014 spending plan. That right there is about $25,000. Even if the revenue projections didn't fully pan out, the building is certainly generating some revenue. Isn't any of this income dedicated to the pavilion itself?
If the pavilion is in such bad shape now, what are the consequences of waiting to do the repairs until spring? Do they think snow and ice and temperature changes are going to make the problem better by next spring? If the bill is $120,000 this year, what will it be if they have to replace even more of the structure due to procrastination.
The pavilion isn't Schenectady's most urgent need. But it is one of those benefits that city residents have come to expect and enjoy, and they pay for the privilege.
Waiting another winter to make needed repairs could end up being more costly in the future. Let's hope the council finds a way to make the necessary repairs before that happens.