Town could move next month

R enovations to the former Skenesborough Firehouse continue and town officials anticipate making a move next month.

Supervisor George Armstrong said work continues to progress and at least some services could be relocated to the firehouse in the coming weeks.

“Things are going along pretty well,” said Armstrong. Sept. 1 has been targeted as the date to be in the firehouse.

Officials expect the move will occur gradually with the relocation of the town clerk’s office the first priority. The supervisor’s secretary and budget officer — Rich Strum — would likely follow shortly thereafter, if not at the same time.

Armstrong said moving the town clerk will necessitate a brief lapse in services because computer equipment will need to be unplugged, moved across the street, and hooked back up, but the entire process should only take a day or two.

Before they can move, officials will need the building inspected to ensure it complies with all applicable codes and regulations. Russ Kiggins, a code enforcement officer for Washington County, is expected to look at the building, perhaps as early as this week. One issue that officials know they will need to address is the lack of handicap facilities.

Fortunately handicap ramps will not be needed because the building is already accessible from the street. However, officials will have to build or modify a bathroom so it has handicap features. Armstrong said the lack of a handicap bathroom won’t affect officials from relocating their offices, but it will prevent the town from holding meetings in the building until the situation is remedied.

The next two town meetings, scheduled for Aug. 15 and in September, will be held in the Canal Corp. Visitors Center. But if contractors continue to make strides, it’s possible, although not certain, that October’s meeting will be held in the firehouse.

A wall has already been erected in the main hall of the building to create a meeting space and work in the area where offices will be located is nearly complete, with the installation of phone lines being one of the final tasks remaining.

The office area will be located in the former fire company meeting area, adjacent to the bays where the fire trucks are parked.

Contractors have already sealed and weather-proofed the windows and repainted the walls. They have also a cut a hole on the north wall and installed a counter and sliding glass window so the town clerk can interact with residents seeking garbage tickets, marriage licenses or a variety of other services.

A large double-door safe has been moved into the office area and a heating and air conditioning unit was installed last month.

When the move is finally made, it will end years of searching that began after the town moved from the site of what is now City Steak and Seafood more than six years ago.

The town has occupied the Visitors Center ever since and over the years has considered several locations in town for the site of a new town hall before deciding on the firehouse earlier this year.

It’s been discussed that the building could be a shared municipal center, with space for the village and the local courts.

And while the village has yet to commit to such a plan, it’s believed the court will eventually relocate to the building, although it is still premature to determine an exact date. Officials will look at the possibility of applying for a grant to accommodate such a move.

The town applied for a $400,000 grant in March that would cover the expense of its move, among other things, but have yet to receive any notice whether it will be awarded.

It’s estimated that the cost of renovations to firehouse to date is near $20,000.

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