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Engineering requests sought for Lewis Lanes; no decision made on appraisal

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LOWVILLE — The Lewis County Board of Legislators unanimously agreed Tuesday to seek requests for proposals from engineering firms to determine whether the Lewis Lanes bowling alley will meet the county’s need for office space.

A $1 million purchase agreement was signed in October, followed by the rescinding of that agreement one week later when two legislators changed their minds. In January, a largely new board of legislators reinstated it.

The contract contains three make-or-break conditions: An appraisal must meet or exceed the purchase price; an engineer’s report must declare the property suitable for the county’s office space needs, and an acceptable environmental review must be received.

The requests for proposal, which also include the environmental review, will determine two possible uses for the building at 7828 Route 26. Either it will house all of the county offices now occupying rented space, totaling 25 employees in the Board of Elections, Office for the Aging and Department of Motor Vehicles, or it will relocate the Department of Social Services with approximately 70 employees.

A tentative due date for requests was set for March 25.

To meet the appraisal requirements, Legislator Philip C. Hathway, R-Harrisville, chairman of the Ways and Means, Buildings and Grounds, County Clerk Committee, said, the committee had discussed requesting more than one appraisal — “One local and one not local,” he said, to ensure a fair appraisal process.

Legislator Craig P. Brennan, R-Deer River, said multiple appraisals could pose problems.

“We leave ourselves open to litigation,” he said, possibly giving the illusion legislators are looking to get more than one appraisal to choose the one more favorable for themselves.

Legislator Richard A. Chartrand, D-Lowville, said he thought receiving an appraisal from a Lewis County firm, rather than one outside the county, would give a more accurate appraisal.

When asked for guidance, Lewis County Attorney Richard J. Graham said, “I don’t advise the board directly in public session.”

After the board completed items of public interest, an executive session was held to continue the discussion concerning the appraisal.

The board adjourned following executive session without any action.

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