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highwaydept winter

The Lansing Town Board authorized Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne Wednesday to execute an agreement for a Building and Site Programming - Concept Alternatives Analysis to renovate or replace the half-century-old Town Highway Department building. After an extensive search the Town's evaluation committee recommended Bergmann Architects, Engineers, and Planners, P.C. to do develop the analysis.

"Cricket (Highway Superintendent Charlie 'Cricket' Purcell) and Mike (Deputy Highway Superintendent Mike Moseley have been doing a marvelous job with duct tape and chewing gum, but that has its limits," said Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne. "And, once again, that building is 51 years. We don't know what life is left in that. I see this as just getting some answers and getting some options."

The Highway Department moved out of the garage next to the Scoops Ice Cream stand, and into its current facility 51 years ago. In April Purcell explained that the Town has outgrown the facility. It can't hold all the equipment, and the building has developed problems beyond just being out of code compliance half a decade later.

"We're just out of space," Purcell said. "A lot of the mechanicals are just really outdated. I mean, we've got electrical panels that are full -- you can't really add to anything. There are starting to be some deficiencies where we've had some broken conduits and wires. The mechanicals are just really outdated -- plumbing and all that stuff. Certainly administrative facilities and personnel facilities are really substandard today to today's standards. And sometimes ice is on the inside of the buildings."

The Town issued an RFP (Request For Proposals) in April that netted 22 building and cost proposals. After the proposals had been evaluated by the evaluation committee narrowed it down to two firms. Purcell and Moseley interviewed them and determined that Bergmann was the best fit for the Town's needs.

"The intention is to offer at least four different concept alternatives," said Town of lansing Director of Planning C.J. Randall at Wednesday's Town Board meeting. "The Town did authorize a needs assessment, I think maybe, two and a half years ago. And there were some good 'spit ball' numbers that came out of it, as far as construction costs. But about seven months ago we asked to issue the RFP so that we could really get a broad sense from architectural and engineering firms who specialize in this kind of municipal -- and specifically highway department work -- to see what ideas were out there, what costs you're looking at. The firms that really impressed the evaluation committee were ones that said, 'we really need to dig this and figure out what exactly is going on on this site'."

Councilman Joseph Wetmore questioned the timing of the expenditure, saying, "I am questioning why we're moving forward on building on rebuilding the highway department buildings when we're not sure that we have enough to maintain the roads the way we normally do."

"We've tried to have this conversation for 10 or 12 years," Purcell explained. "I think the main thing we need to start with is some sort of plan and design. I don't say this means that we need to move forward tomorrow and do it, but I think, think it's important at some point to kind of come up with a model of what it should be. And certainly look to the future. We're in a 51 year old building. We outgrew it years ago, and we keep trying to (fix it) piecemeal and do things that we can. Mechanicals and stuff like that are in dire need of upgrades.

LaVigne added that money for operations comes largely from sales tax revenue, and the money for capital expenses comes from a different area of the budget.

"It's one of those situations where we're going to have to building this facility anyways, whether we build a new one or not," LaVigne said. "We don't have a sprinkler system. Even though we have insurance, it's a 14 month wait period to get a truck. We gotta try and wait and get burned up because these automatic ignitions, they seem to like to ignitefor some reason, without our starting them. We have electrical systems that need upgrading. We have ice that's on the inside of the buildings, among other things. And at some point, especially right now, money is pretty cheap. Talking to Jeff Smith from Municipal Solutions, we're looking at probably less than two and a half percent."

Board members asked whether voting in favor of the contract means that they are committing to spending more on construction. They were assured that this analysis will provide a plan for moving forward, but not a commitment. It will provide various scenarios that may include renovating the current building, razing it and building a new one from scratch on the old site, or moving it to a new site, possibly on the Town Center land across the street from the town ball fields.

LaVigne, Moseley and Purcell have said that while road construction has been scaled back this year due to the coronavirus pandemic's devastating impact on sales tax revenue, that the Department is maintaining Lansing's nearly 100 miles of roadway.

"We're ready to attack winter as it comes," Purcell said.

The Board voted 5-0 to allow LaVigne to execute the contract for a sum not to exceed $40,000.

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