ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County has sprung a leak and some of the roofing in the sprawling Government Center in Elizabethtown needs to be inspected and possibly replaced.
Last month, the board of supervisors approved spending $32,401 to have the Plattsburgh-based surveying firm AES come in and analyze what needs to be done.
On Monday, March 31, lawmakers questioned the decision to bring in outsiders when the county already had engineers on the payroll.
“Don’t we already have an engineer working for us?” North Elba town supervisor Roby Politi asked Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne.
“Our staff does very little design,” said LaVigne. “They’re in more of an administrative position.”
County manager Daniel Palmer later said the county employs several assistant civil engineers. However, these staffers don’t have the PE certification required to do the stamp drawings required for the project assessment.
LaVigne told lawmakers last month that the roofing in the complex dates from a patchwork of time periods, including sections built in 1809, 1931 and 1950. Not all of the structures will need work and it remains unclear what exactly needs to be done.
AES, who will contract with the county on a per-hour basis, will go in and answer that question. Drawings will be developed, specs designed and safety requirements for scaffolding will be hammered out.
Based on what AES determines, the project will then go out to bid.
Schroon Lake supervisor Michael Marnell voted against Monday’s resolution to amend the existing contract with AES because he said it’s impossible to determine the extent of the structural damage underneath the roofing — if any — without ripping everything up and inspecting it firsthand.
“It’s almost impossible to look at a roof without moving it and then repairing any damage from leaking,” he said. “Sometimes they look perfect underneath and the plywood is decayed. Unless you have x-ray vision, you can’t just tell.”
Also requested at the Ways and Means committee meeting was a resolution by county attorney Daniel Manning to temporarily take on a former Horace Nye staffer to facilitate the process of transferring an entire roomful of files and records from the now-private facility back to the county.
“It’s extremely important to recoup all of the money, especially the funds from delayed Medicaid payments,” said Manning. “We want to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and I’m really counting on her.”
Horace Nye officially became the Essex Center for Rehab and Healthcare on March 20 after a jittery transition process that saw a number of delays.