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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kellogg Road Community Center...

Today's OD article asks, Should New Hartford reopen community center?

That seems to be a nagging question; but, more importantly, we have to ask...was there a hidden agenda regarding the closing of this building in the first place?

Back in October 2007, then Ward 1 Councilman, Robert A. Payne, III, decided it would be a good idea to close the Kellogg Road Community Center for the winter months of November to April. According to the October 10, 2007 approved town board minutes, Councilman Payne said:
...the Town would realize an estimated savings of at least Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000) in energy costs.
Then, according to the November 7, 2007 approved town board minutes, Payne said:
The 2006 energy expenses for the Kellogg Road Community Center Building totaled Four Thousand Four Hundred Seven Dollars ($4,407) while the rental revenues for the same period amounted to about Eight Hundred Dollars ($800.00).
Hmm...according to the article in today's paper:
Reed estimated the costs [of the utilities] at between $12,000 and $14,000 per year, in a May 2009 interview.
Guess he really wasn't a whiz when it came to numbers! How big did Reed think this building was when he made that crazy statement.

Finally, in April 2008, it was revealed at the town board meeting that:
By closing this building for the winter months, the Town saved $1700 in utility costs, according to the Supervisor.
So supposedly the town saved $1,700 in energy costs...take away the $800 in rental revenue that the town no longer received and you have a savings of a whopping $900. For a town board that spent $2.8 million of our tax dollars frivolously, this is almost comical.

According to the January 23, 2008 approved town board minutes:

Agreement – Structural Evaluation of Kellogg Road Community Center Building

The Highway Superintendent reported it had been suggested that the Town evaluate and determine whether the Kellogg Road Community Center is structurally sound. A quote of Twelve Hundred Dollars ($1200) has been received from Zangrilli Engineering to inspect, identify, evaluate, and recommend any remedial action, to include the Americans With Disability Act. No Board action was taken at this time.

No board action was that is funny because...

Through the FOIL process, we obtained a copy of the November 19, 2007 limited evaluation of the Kellogg Road Community Center prepared by Alesia & Crewell that was sent to the attention of [Councilman] David Reynolds; two months prior to the January 23, 2008 board meeting where there was no action taken to hire Zangrilli Engineering to evaluate the building!

As a matter of fact, we could not find any indication that this was a budgeted item or that the town board even approved the hiring of Alesia & Crewell to do the evaluation.

The result of the evaluation by Alesia & Crewell:
"For its age, the building is in generally good condition. The concerns raised are relatively minor, explainable and repairable. Probably the biggest shortfall is the lack of adequate insulation and resulting high energy cost to operate.

It is estimated that an expenditure of $20,000 to $25,000 would be required to resolve the issues with the building."
According to the article in today's Observer Dispatch:
He [Councilman Backman] said the building could be closed in the coldest times of year to save money.

Backman also suggested the repairs could be done more cheaply if a BOCES class was able to use it as a project.
The estimate of the work needed is substantial, but, hopefully something can be worked out so that the building can be re-opened, even if it is only for the warmer months.

Still, we have to wonder just how much damage there really is and how unsafe the building is at this point. We blogged back in September 2009 when we saw the Community Center building lights on for a couple of nights. We were subsequently told that the police were using the building; heaven knows what for...must be the building is only unsafe for us "common folk".

In our research, we ran across a November 2007 Observer Dispatch article, New Hartford closes community center Dec. 1 until April 30. The article said in part:
‘A piece of surplus property’

In addition to saving on utility expenses, officials said the building is in a “deplorable” state and is therefore unfit to use.

“It needs a new roof,” Reed said. “We can close it down and analyze the viability of the building.”

Town Planning Board member Jerome Donovan, who has attended board meetings in the center for seven years, said the building is an eyesore in the town’s redevelopment plan and occupies valuable commercial property.

It also is unequipped for public presentations, he said.

“It does not lend itself to audio-visual presentations, nothing for public comment,” he said. “I won’t shed any tears if they close it down. It is an unnecessary building, a piece of surplus property.”
The article finishes by saying:
Whether repairs will be made to the building still is undecided, and members next spring will look to appoint a citizens committee made up of engineers and architects who can assess the building’s condition and decide its fate.

Councilman David Reynolds said the town is exploring the financial feasibility of keeping the building open.
Is there anyone reading this that was on that citizens committee? Sorry that was a rhetorical question...we already know the answer...there was no citizens committee!

Here is a video excerpt from the January 13, 2010 town board meeting where Councilman Backman brought the issue to the table:

One more thing, we are told, and Don Backman mentioned in the video, that the parking lights and security cameras for the police station run off the Community Center wonder we only saved $1,700 on a $4,400 bill!

" eyesore in the town’s redevelopment plan and occupies valuable commercial property." Au is only valuable commercial property if the police station is part and parcel of the property that is disposed of. Like we said, it appears there was a hidden agenda in the closing of Kellogg Road Community Center. We are sure there is much more to this story!


Greens and Beans said...

There should be no doubt that the “powers that be” will seek to have someone to rubberstamp the closing of this facility. I would like to invite you to perform a little news media research. When the Westmoreland Central School District built its Middle School facility, look to see who the architectural firm was. And look for the name of the Engineering firm that designed their septic system(s). I believe you may just uncover some rather familiar names.

New Hartford, N.Y. Online said...

Let me guess...Alesia & Crewell are the architects and Shumaker was the Engineering firm that designed their septic system. Friends and family are alive and well!