K&J – CIty Council Re-Considers Plattsburgh Waterfront Building

053014 - Kevin Farrington THUMB - Holding Waterfront Building Pic

City Engineer Kevin Farrington

Plattsburgh’s City Council is taking a second look at their building on the waterfront at the city docks..  but before we take a step forward on this project, it seems like the council needs to take three steps back…  At their last meeting, Councilors, with the Exception of Paul O’Connell voted to hold off on approving an investment in the engineering study for mold abatement and the construction of new bathrooms in their vacant facility on the waterfront..  During that meeting, the council essentially Balked at a $30,000 investment in planning for the first step in re-vitalizing their docks and taking advantage of another grant that would pay for docks provided there are ada compliant bathrooms available on the property.. Councilman Mike Kelly suggested that waiting a few weeks wouldn’t hurt to see if the city could save a little money by looking for a lower bid.. That vote was on May 22nd. The City Council sent Kevin Farrington, the City Engineer, on a mission to get some new quotes and to help explain what will go into the work they plan to undertake at the waterfront to re-vitalize the building there that’s been sitting vacant since the floods..  He is in the process of doing just that. Kevin is working with local architects and AES Northeast to find a solution the city council can be comfortable with while at the same time allowing the project to move forward in one contract, as opposed to a piecemeal approach suggested by Councilor Kretzer which would require the staff to return to the council following completion of the assessment in order to begin the next phase of the concept.  In an effort to better explain why such a project has to begin with assessment, and why the contract needs an overall view of the project’s planning phase we hear from Kevin at a recent work-session of the council. “The first step is to look at pre-design and planning,” Farrington begins, “To really figure out what it is that you want, whether the bathrooms should have showers, and what the overall scope of the project should be so that it can be put out to public bid.” The pre-planning process allows the engineer’s office and the Mayor to work with councilors to identify what really should be done to the building..  but.. keep in mind it’s essentially been ignored for three years.. so step one is to get rid of the mold and any other issues in there before they can even begin to re-build.. This contract with AES really provides the roadmap to manage the logistics of a bigger project detailed by the confines of a comprehensive Local Waterfront Revitalization plan which was drafted and approved several years ago as a vision for the city’s waterfront on Lake Champlain..   Right now, the City Engineer simply needs a basic plan, as he does for every city project which needs to go out to public bid.. The cost for Mold assessment and remediation is about $4,773.00.. then you get into the bulk of the design which is a schematic for the bathroom followed by detailed construction documents, plans and specifications..   The total design would be $14,052.00..   The actual construction for the bathrooms in order to make them ADA compliant with showers will come to about $60,000 and the actually Mold abatement.. about $40,000..  The total on this project to get the building ready to lease to a potential business interested in serving the waterfront, serving all of the fishing tournaments, as well as the visiting public.. about $130,000.00. Farrington adds that the major issue for this building is the water damage. “If this had been taken care of three years ago, the costs would have been substantially lower than they are now.” Farrington told the Council.

k&J – 060214 – Rebuilding The Plattsburgh City Docks Building

Councilman Kelly is concerned about another flood. Farrington responded by saying In terms of protecting the building from future flooding, they can work to make it “Flood tolerant,” but not “Flood proof.”  During the conversation, Councilor Kretzer suggested the possibility of starting over with a smaller pre-fab concrete building..  “Those buildings are typically built to specifications and don’t include the work involved in demolition, landscaping, plumbing, etc… ” Farrington said, “These buildings often make sense in the middle of a dirt site or a park but in this case, there is already a building and a foundation, and essentially it would be less expensive to revitalize the building that is there which would also provide space for a business owner to lease the balance of the building to put in a restaurant or other types of waterfront facilities.”

One theme is coming to the forefront during this work-session… The City Council appears interested in doing the right thing.. but seems to be having trouble allowing the planning office take them to step one….

Councilman Mike Kelly suggested he thought the overall goal was to get the bathrooms done quickly and his comment prompted a heartfelt plea from Mayor Calnon to allow the city’s staff to do their jobs and for the Council to trust that they will continue to work on the project with the best interest of the taxpayers in mind..   Calnon says it’s embarrassing to have that building down there sitting idle..

At this point Councilor Kretzer again inquired as to the possibility of doing the testing, and then making separate decisions on each aspect of the project.  While Kretzer was focused on his convincing the council to look at alternative options, Councilors Dowdle, Kelly and Armstrong appear to have been persuaded by Mayor Calnon’s plea to allow the experts to do their job and agreed that if the motion were brought to the next formal meeting, they could be inclined to approve the contract so that AES can get to work on the specifics required so that work on the building can be put out for bid. “It’s important to understand,” Mayor Calnon said during his plea, ” That we’re not going to push ahead with something just because we have a contract if it’s not the right thing to do. First we need to do the mold assessment and if there’s a problem, that will be reported to the Council and we’ll have to make a decision as to how to proceed. Thursday’s agenda will most likely include an update on quotes and possibly another vote on whether or not to move forward at the waterfront.. we’ll be sure to bring you an update on that vote on Friday here on WNBZ..

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