Town rejects moving to armory

B y Derek Liebig

The Armory is off the table.

After a few months of discussing the feasibility of relocating the town offices from the Canal Corp Visitor’s Center to the vacant Armory, at least one town official has decided it’s best to consider other options.

Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon said Friday he has decided against moving to the Armory. An ardent supporter of the move a few months ago, and one of the driving forces behind the possible relocation to the Armory, Gordon said the costs of moving to the building would be prohibitive.

“With all the facts and figures, it’s easy to make the decision to opt out of obtaining the Armory,” Gordon said.

Betty Newell, a member of the committee charged with examining the costs related to a move to the Armory, presented the group’s findings at a town board meeting earlier this month.

Although they determined there were several advantages to the building, their finding s revealed that a significant amount of money would have to be invested into the building to make a move feasible.

The committee estimated that fuel costs would have approached anywhere between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, a handicap ramp would have to be installed, and fire doors and improved fire exits from the upper floors would have been needed, creating a potentially expensive project.

“It just would have been too much and I think it would have been a big headache in the end,” Gordon said.

Instead, Gordon has turned his attention to another of Whitehall’s vacant buildings, one that’s only a quarter mile north of the Amory.

“I’ve made an offer on the Garden Time building and I’m just waiting for their call,” Gordon said.

If the realtor accepts his bid, Gordon will present a motion to the board to purchase the building.

“I believe I have enough backing from the board and I think that’s the answer.”

Town councilman David Hollister said if the price was right, he would support a move to the Garden Time building.

“At this point it’s a viable opportunity and it’s the best we got,” he said. “It’s not free, but it’s less expensive than the Armory.”
Gordon didn’t reveal how much he offered for the building, but it reportedly was available for $215,000 in January.

Gordon believes the town could create additional revenue to offset some of the cost by renting out portions of the building.

This is not the first time the town has considered moving into the Garden Time building.

Earlier this winter they were presented with an opportunity to buy the building or rent it for $500 a month by the building’s owner Fred Troelstra, but an engineering report compiled by

Ken Martin raised some issues.

In Martin’s report he said he believed the building would need an additional support beam for the floor and a crack on the east wall would needed to be sealed.

It’s not clear if those problems have been addressed, but they aren’t necessarily considered deal-breakers.

Hollister said the building was in good enough shape, at least at the end that sold flowers, to move into immediately if they had to.

Gordon is anxious to find a new home for the town. They have occupied the New York State Canal Corporations Visitors’ Center since 2006 and although the Canal Corp is willing to work with the town as they search for a permanent home, they have made it clear that they would like the building returned to its original use.

 “They want us to move and I can understand where they are coming from. It would be better for everyone,” Gordon said.

He said his goal is to have a permanent home by December.

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