Johnsburg Town Hall
When the Johnsburg Town Board opened bids for a new roof for the Town Hall on Tuesday, June 19, the news was sobering.
“We were pretty surprised by the numbers,” Town Supervisor Ron Vanselow said.
The low bid was about $35,000. The high bid was double that amount. The town had set aside between $25,000 and $30,000 for an entire laundry list of projects at various buildings throughout the town.
“That one project is beyond the budget for all the building projects,” Vanselow said.
Other projects needing attention include a roof that needs resurfacing at the Senior Meal Site and Scout Hall that needs attention, including a paint job.
Vanselow offered some options for the Town Hall roof. He suggested possibly buying the materials and having town crews install the roof.
“Mr. Hitchcock (town DPW chief) has expressed a willingness to help with a few projects,” Vanselow said.
As an alternative, Vanselow suggested hiring a few temporary workers with roofing skills to install the roof. Or the town could roll the dice and hope the roof holds up until town finances improve and it can afford to replace the roof.
Councilman Peter Olesheski said the town should consider borrowing via a bond to pay for the roofing project.
“I know we are all very proud of the fact that the town is debt-free,” Olesheski said. “But I hate to see this come to a complete stop.”
Olesheski said the town could pay as much as it could afford toward the cost of the roof and then borrow the balance and pay it off as soon as it could.
Councilwoman Kate Nightingale didn’t like that idea.
“I’m not opposed to using a bond when necessary,” she said. “But after looking at that roof today, I don’t see a reason to run out and get a bond.”
Councilman Arnold Stevens agreed with Nightingale and questioned how the Town Hall roof made it to the top of the priority list.
“On my list, the Town Hall roof wasn’t a priority,” he said. “The Senior Meal Site was a priority. Let’s get on with some of these projects.”
Though no formal vote was taken, board members coalesced around the notion of leaving the Town Hall roof alone for now and focusing on the Senior Meal Site and Scout Hall.
But the grim news just kept coming for the Town Board on Tuesday when town water system operator Charlie Rawson informed the board that the system needs two critical repairs that would cost anywhere from about $40,000 to more than $200,000.
The first repair is at the Mary Cornwall booster pump site and has two components. First, the station has two pumps, only one of which works, Rawson said. Both pumps and their controls are at the bottom of a pit. Whenever anyone needs to work on the pumps or access the controls, the individual has to descend into the pit. That’s not only an OSHA violation if the worker is alone — which often is the case — but it’s extremely unsafe, Rawson said.
To remedy the situation, Rawson proposed installing a new electrical service on a pedestal above ground so that no one has to go into the pit to control the pumps. The cost, Rawson said, would be about $7,000.
The second component relates to the pumps in the pit. Whenever the pumps turn on or off, a surge is created that results in what Rawson referred to as a “water hammer” effect. The water hammer, or sudden increase in water pressure to up to 150 psi causes undue stress on the system and is damaging pipes, both in the system and pipes in residences and businesses.
Rawson recommended replacing the pump at a cost of about $30,000.
The second situation is at the 200,000-gallon water tank that services the south end of the water system. The tank needs to be serviced, and a leak needs to be repaired. Rawson said the town has three options.
1) It can replace the tank at a cost of about $140,000.
2) It can recondition the old tank by emptying it, pressure washing the interior, painting the exterior, disinfecting it, resurfacing the interior of the tank and relining it. That would cost about $200,000, Rawson said.
3) The third option would provide a temporary fix. The town would contract with a company that specializes in repairing and restoring water tanks. The company would send divers into the tank and they would apply a patch on the leak that should last a couple of years, maybe more. The cost for the patch repair would be around $4,000, Rawson said.
The board voted unanimously to proceed with the new pump and the installation of new electrical service at the pump site as well as proceeding with the temporary patch at the water tank, all of which is estimated to cost around $41,000.
The one bright bit of news, Vanselow said, is that the town raised water rates several years ago so that it could establish a repair fund.
“There are funds available,” Vanselow said.
The Town Board next meets at 7 p.m., July 3 at the Wevertown Hall.