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Massena town council opens bidding on infrastructure repairs

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MASSENA — Town officials have voted to open bidding for infrastructure improvement projects that could come with a total price tag of $2.3 million.

The Massena Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday to solicit bids for projects to repair a Highway Department barn, construct a hangar at Massena International Airport, repair the facade and front steps of the town hall and improve the parking lots outside the town hall.

Going ahead with all aspects of every project could cost the town more than $2 million. However, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said the town could decline to accept bids for some work if it doesn’t have the money, or it could choose to have work done in phases.

The barn project would be the most expensive by far, estimated at $1.87 million. Extensive renovations are needed, “everything from mechanicals to roofing to asbestos abatement, and huge aesthetics improvements,” Mr. Gray said.

Councilman Robert J. Cunningham was hesitant to approve the motion, citing the high cost of the project during difficult fiscal times.

“I just can’t see us spending $1.8 million to revitalize that building,” he said.

Highway Department Superintendent Frank J. Diagostino said the town could choose to fund only portions of the proposed repairs.

“You may say, ‘OK, at this point in time we can’t afford’” all the maintenance work, “put in a new entrance, put a new roof on it, insulate it and put in a new floor, and that’s what you do,” Mr. Diagostino said. “I’m not saying everything on that list needs to be done. If you can’t, obviously you can’t.”

Mr. Diagostino said better insulation could save the town on the heating costs.

The town hall upgrades are estimated to cost $453,000, with approximately $323,000 of that going toward repairs to the building’s crumbling facade and front steps.

“The mortar is failing. You have chunks of mortar falling off the building,” Mr. Gray said. “No one’s been hit yet, thankfully. Obviously we need serious repairs to the front of the town hall.”

Mr. Gray said estimates to repair the town hall may be “a little fat” to compensate for unknowns that may be unearthed once crews remove the front steps for renovations.

The parking lot around the town hall needs repairs to fill potholes and improve water drainage, Mr. Gray said.

The town also is seeking bids to reshingle the roof over the Police Department entrance.

Originally to be included in the bids was $20,000 in security upgrades, such as the installation of security cameras and key-card entry to the main doors.

However, some town officials objected, saying those upgrades were unnecessary.

The town also will invite bids to construct a 12,000-square-foot hangar that could accommodate six small planes and two larger ones. Massena already received a $759,000 state grant in 2011 to construct the hangar, which requires an additional $134,100 local contribution.

To help fund the work, the Town Council voted to refinance more than $2 million in outstanding bonds, which is projected to save the town $129,000 in interest costs over the next 15 years.

Previously, Mr. Gray had planned to include repairs to the town hall roof in the bidding. Earlier this year, town officials noticed roof issues that caused leaking into the town court offices.

However, the contractor that installed the roof, RSI Roofing Inc., Gouverneur, repaired the roof at no cost to the town because the roof was still under a 15-year warranty.

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