The Lansing Town Council voted unanimously on Nov. 18 to allow Town Supervisor Edward LaVigne to perform a Building and Site Programming - Concept Alternatives Analysis for a renovation project of the highway department building. The council will allocate up to $40,000 for the contract.
After reviewing several potential contractors, the town’s evaluation committee recommended that Bergmann Architects, Engineers, and Planners, P.C. be the entity to analyze and develop options for the project. Conversations between the council and the highway department have been going on for at least a decade about what to do about the department’s facility, which is more than 50 years old.
“I think the main thing we need to start with is some sort of plan and design,” Charlie Purcell, Highway Department Superintendent, said at a meeting last Wednesday. “I don’t say this means that we need to move forward tomorrow and do it, but I think it’s important at some point to come up with a model of what it should be and certainly look to the future as far as we’re in a 51-year-old building. We’ve outgrown it years ago and we keep trying to piecemeal and do things that we can. Mechanicals and stuff like that are in dire need of upgrades.”
During the interview process of possible contractors, Bergmann officials presented multiple options for how the town could proceed with the project. The town could either renovate the current building or construct a completely new one either on the existing site or on another piece of town-owned land.
Prior to voting on the resolution, Councilman Joseph Wetmore asked the rest of the council whether or not now is an appropriate time to begin such a project.
“I’m questioning on why we’re moving forward on rebuilding the highway department buildings when we’re not sure if we have enough to maintain the roads the way we normally do,” Wetmore said.
LaVigne explained that the funding for this project would come out of the town’s sales tax revenue, and that this is something the council is going to have to address at some point.
“It’s one of those situations where we’re going to have to upgrade this building anyways, whether we build a new one or not,” LaVigne said. “We don’t have a sprinkler system, and even though we have insurance, it’s a 14-month wait period to get a truck. We have to wait and get burned up because these automatic ignitions, they seem to like to ignite for some reasons with or without starting them. That’s one of the concerns.”
Councilman Doug Dake also said he thinks it is the right choice to keep the project progressing.
“We’re still in the infancy of this,” Dake said. “I know we’ve had a lot of years with it, or several years with it, but certainly we can get an idea of what we want and when we can actually proceed. I think it’s important that we keep planning this way.”
Wetmore said he is aware of the issues that need to be addressed at the facility and that he is just concerned about the finances in the current turbulent economic situation.
“I have no question that there are things that need to be done right away,” Wetmore said. “We need to put a sprinkler system in the town barns. It’s really risking a lot to not have that kind of protection on all the equipment we have there. I certainly recognize how the barns have been retrofitted and put together in a not fully organized manner. I don’t have any questions about the need for this. I’m just worried about cash flow in a time when the economy is kind of iffy.”