PEEKSKILL, N.Y. Plans for the new central firehouse on the corner of Broad and Park streets are moving forward quickly, but further progress hinges on land acquisition, according to architect Bob Mitchell at Mondays Committee of the Whole meeting.
"We are, with the exception of the civil engineering portion, 99 percent completed on the work specs," said Mitchell, of Mitchell Associates of Albany.
The civil engineering portion of the project is being held up while the city negotiated with property and business owners, since engineers need access to the properties to make assessments, he said.
The city is still in negotiations with businesses in the eastern part of the Crossroads Plaza and Main Street that would be pushed out of their current location. City officials said they would consider eminent domain as a last resort if an agreement could not be reached.
Mitchell said the plans are also well on their way to LEED certification, which would give the building a high energy efficiency rating.
"We're at 55 points, with 50 being the threshold for silver certification," Mitchell said.
Mitchell also said one of the next steps in the project would be to find a clerk of the works for the project, a position that he described as "the eyes and ears of the architect."
"The person has to be absolutely impeccably trustworthy, since we'll be leaving that person on the jobsite to identify if things are not going well," Mitchell said. He added that he didn't know what a clerk would cost yet but said he hoped to cover the position, a roughly 20 hour a week job, with what was already in the budget.
Council member Mary Beth McGowan said that previous discussions had led city staff and the council to consider having the city take on such a position to oversee multiple projects.
"We thought since we had a couple of bigger projects like the visitor center we thought it would be more beneficial to have a clerk of the works to deal with all thoseplus, be able to look at the bigger picture of employment and a whole lot of other things they would be able to coordinate," McGowan said.
The firehouse is expected to cost about $15.6 million, which is a little more than $1 million more than the estimated cost of renovating the existing stations, which was about 14.3 million. The city created a transfer tax on property sales and a 1 percent municipal tax increase to help pay for the new station.
A central firehouse would save the city money in utility costs and provide space for the 100 hours of required annual state training for firefighters, department staff have argued. Currently, city firefighters travel elsewhere for training.
Mayor Mary Foster and deputy city manager Brian Havranek agreed that such a position was needed on the firehouse project. The topic was discussed further in an executive session that immediately followed the meeting.
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