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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 1, 2011

To comply with ADA
Board looks at retrofitting Village Hall

By Jo E. Prout

VOORHEESVILLE — The village board here last week discussed plans to expand and upgrade Village Hall to make it accessible to all. The proposed project could cost between $400,000 and $1 million, according to the board’s engineer.

Richard Straut, of Barton and Loguidice, said that his firm considered costs for building a new village hall, building onto the firehouse, and retrofitting the existing village hall.

The building currently used, on Voorheesville Avenue, houses the village court and office on the first floor, and the board’s meeting room on the second floor. The rooms are accessible only by stairs.

“The least expensive option is to do something here,” Straut told the board of keeping Village Hall. A “bumped out” addition to the rear of the building toward Nichols Park would make enough room for an elevator shaft and mechanical systems, Straut said. The project would also include the addition of an upstairs restroom that would be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, he said.

The downstairs clerk’s office may be redesigned during the project, he said. The board agreed that the space can be redesigned for efficiency, but that more office space is neither needed nor anticipated.

Adding onto Village Hall could cost between $400,000 and $500,000, Straut said. A new building would cost at least $1 million, he said.

Superintendent of Public Works Will Smith asked if grants were available for making similar buildings compliant with ADA regulations. Straut did not know, but said that Barton and Loguidice would search for some.

Straut said that he and an architect had examined the building. Construction could take two to three months, he said, and begin in the spring. He said that he would meet with the board over several meetings before work begins.

“It’s a considerable amount of money. You don’t want to get to the end and say, ‘I wish we’d thought of that,’” Straut said.

Board member David Cardona said that the remodeling needs to be done, and that money had been moved from the general fund to the building reserve for this purpose.

Currently, there is $289,000 in the building reserve, he and Clerk-Treasurer Linda Pasquali said.

The board will hold a workshop Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. to discuss the project.

Other business

In other business, the village board:

— Met with Fire Chief Dave Gannon and fire truck committee member Frank Papa at its workshop prior to the board meeting to discuss finalized specifications for the fire truck the village plans to purchase. The board said that requests for proposals would go out this week;

— Agreed, at the suggestion of village attorney Anne-Jo McTague, to consolidate village banking and move all village accounts to First Niagara, where, McTague said, rates are higher;

— Heard from Friends of the Rail Trail that a portion of the Albany rail trail may be opened from Voorheesville Avenue to Hilton Road. FORT asked the board for a letter of support to attach to grant applications. Funds are needed to repair missing fencing and railings along the trail, members said; and

— Heard from resident Steven Schreiber, who asked the board to reconsider investigating railroad quiet zones. The board heard a similar request previously from resident Ed Clark.

Mayor Robert Conway said that federal railroad administration safety rules require horns or alternative safety gates, like quad gates, at each crossing. The village has several crossings within its limits, but Conway said that expensive quad gates — that cost up to $100,000 — would not eliminate all railway horn noise.

“You can start hearing trains when they’re in New Salem,” he said.

Schreiber said that a minimum limit on horn blowing would reduce noise in the village. He said that a 20-year lifespan on an expensive set of four gates at each crossing could cost residents “pennies a day, literally.”

Citing the number of village residents at 1,500, Schreiber said, “I don’t think there are too many people in Voorheesville who are sentimental about train noise.” He said that quad gates, or an alternative for the establishment of a quiet zone, would increase the quality of life for residents.

Conway agreed to meet with Schreiber and Clark after the holidays to discuss creating quiet zones in the village.

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