Progress report: Town Hall project taking shape

Remodeling Town Hall. (photo by Dion Ogust)

The Town Hall renovation is proceeding more or less on schedule and within its allotted budget, leading Woodstock officials to envision a mid-January completion date for the project, which will expand and modernize the offices of the Police and Emergency Dispatch Departments and the justice court.

Woodstock supervisor Jeremy Wilber; councilman Bill McKenna, who has served as the Town Board’s liaison for the project; Charles Wesley, the town’s clerk of the works, or on-site manager, for the renovation; and Chuck Beverly, the project foreman for the general contractor, Nurzia Construction Corporation, offered an update on the project’s progress during a September 4 visit to the site. Formal work on the renovation began in May.

The demolition phase of the project, along with the drilling of six wells for a geothermal heating and cooling system, is complete; contractors expect to finish connecting three of the wells to the system’s underground “loop,” and to the building itself, by the end of this week. The containment plan for the well drilling has worked to perfection, according to Wesley, who reported that no potentially hazardous materials have escaped the site.

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Meanwhile, construction, including the framing of interior walls and the installation of electrical and plumbing elements, is well under way. In recent weeks from eight to 12 workers have been present at the site on a given day. The total reflects three or four workers employed by Nurzia; two or three by Barney and Sons Well Drilling, whose work is nearly complete; one or two each by the plumbing contractor, Dutchess Mechanical Inc., and the mechanical contractor, DJ Heating and Air Conditioning; and one by the electrical contractor, Pat Kearns Electric.

Wilber estimated that the final cost of the project will lie somewhere between $1.25 million, the sum that the town raised through its recent sale of a bond anticipation note, and $1.6 million, the amount that voters in a 2007 referendum authorized for a renovation of the 75-year-old building at 76 Tinker Street.

The town has incurred about $30,000 in unanticipated costs related to the removal of asbestos, which was discovered on several occasions and in multiple locations during the demolition stage, and of excess concrete. The asbestos removal also set back the construction schedule by at least a week, according to McKenna.

In addition to the unforeseen outlays for asbestos abatement and concrete removal, the project’s ongoing ledger includes roughly $23,000 in “credits and debits” — potential savings or added costs, to be determined at a later date — associated with conditions that arose while work was in progress.

 

Praise for contractors

Wesley, who took over as clerk of the works following the dismissal of his predecessor, Don Snyder, on July 27, praised Nurzia and the project’s other contractors for their cost consciousness and their responsiveness s to changing conditions. Wesley, who has 30 years of experience as an architectural designer and about a dozen years as a project manager, observed that the discovery of unexpected features is par for the course during the renovation of an older building like Town Hall.

Among the surprises uncovered by the workers at Town Hall are concrete blocks that once supported a fire tower, now long gone; the foundation of another since-vanished structure; and, inside the building, handsome brick pillars that, according to Wilber, formerly braced a proscenium stage in the spacious community room where Performing Arts of Woodstock (PAW) has mounted theatrical productions for more than 40 years. The pillars will be preserved in the renovation, which will convert the community room into an expanded courtroom. PAW’s use of the space may continue, subject to the needs and schedule of the justice court.

The northeast end of the building, behind the community room when Town Hall is faced from Tinker Street, will house the offices of the court’s two justices and two clerks and a room for the storage of court records, which will be protected by a chemical-based fire-suppression system. That system is designed to avoid the damage to paper records that could result from the activation of the conventional water sprinkler system that will serve the rest of the building, Wesley noted. The renovated court space will include a glass walk-up window, where fines may be paid, in the northeast corner of Town Hall.

The Police and Emergency Dispatch Departments will move to new quarters on the west side of the building’s Tinker Street entrance. The area undergoing renovation includes one of two garage bays that have remained vacant since Fire Company No. 1 moved to its current location in Bearsville. In addition to the offices of the two departments, the reconfigured space will contain an interview room for juvenile suspects, a processing room in which prisoners can be fingerprinted and interrogated, an information technology room, and a utility room.

Fortuitously, said Wesley, the town’s use of the circa 1960s garage bay conforms to “cutting edge” design principles for police facilities. Many new police stations, he explained, have attached garage bays, whose massive, mechanically operated doors prevent prisoners from escaping from custody while they await their appearance in court.

The area formerly occupied by the police and dispatch departments will contain two public bathrooms, both accessible by disabled people, and a utility area in which PAW may store theatrical equipment and materials.

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