Woodstock Town Board members continue to express concerns about the design for the Comeau town offices renovation and a desire to make sure it is in character with the existing building. Last week, Supervisor Bill McKenna decided to step back and let the Town Board oversee the project and since then, council members have met with Jess and Les Walker of Walker Architecture to discuss the design.
Last year the town hired Walker Architecture to design a renovation of the town offices and to bring those on the main building’s second floor downstairs to the first floor for accessibility, and to make the supervisor’s cottage more energy efficient.
The second floor of the main offices would then be available for meetings and working space for Town Board members. The project is estimated at $2.3 million.
“I was impressed with the fact they were open to ideas,” Councilman Reggie Earls said of a recent Saturday meeting. “I feel good about the current status of things.” But Councilman Lorin Rose is concerned the current design was a compromise so the building doesn’t exceed the confines of a space carved out of the property’s conservation easement to allow municipal use. “The WLC (Woodstock Land Conservancy) is going to make this more expensive,” Rose said.
Changes can be made to the carve-out for municipal use, but the town must demonstrate to the WLC there is no other way to build the addition. According to Rose, the WLC so far is not inclined to change the boundary. Rose said he will speak to them and find out what plans and documentation are needed to convince the WLC to rule on it.
Councilman Richard Heppner has expressed concerns about the transitioning from the current building to the addition and that it looks like it belongs with the rest of the structure. Details such as choice of roof shingles and siding need further review, he said.
The building exterior is in the Dutch Colonial Revival style and the interior is Arts and Crafts, said Heppner, who is also the town historian. He also wants to be sure the Commission for Civic Design’s concerns are addressed. That advisory panel said it is uncomfortable with the current design.
Heppner said while he is not wedded to any particular design, it would be disrespectful to the building’s beauty if an addition is built that does not match.
“Whatever the addition is, it would be nice if it complements this building instead of competes with it,” Councilwoman Laura Ricci said. She used a picture frame as an example, noting the style of frame should blend with the picture and not distract from it.
The Town Board will continue to work with Walker Architecture before final plans are presented for review at a public meeting.
Setting the record straight
Library board President Dorothea Marcus gave an update to the Town Board about the proposed new building’s progress and said she wanted to clear up some recent rumors and speculation. Director Jessica Kerr and library board member Kevin Kraft came for support.
Marcus said library trustees will not be voting at the February 20 meeting to resume the contract with architect Stephen Tilly because it is not required.
The Library Alliance, a group opposed to the new building proposal, has urged the library board not to spend addition money until a November 3 bond vote.
“Our contract was approved last year,” Marcus said. “It has provisions to go into and out of hiatus.”
She said the board did not vote to go into hiatus so there is no need to vote to come out.
Trustees are determined to move forward and the library has more than enough money to pay Tilly for more than three months and for the bulk of the design development phase of planning, she said.
Construction Manager Agent JC Alten has worked to cut Tilly’s estimate from $6.9 million down to the promised $4.4 million budget and Tilly is committed to working with that number. Tilly’s contract is $584,000, bringing the professional and building costs to around $5 million. That does not include related expenses such as relocation to or rental of a temporary library, furnishings, security and communication systems.
Alten has proposed reducing the building size from 13,400 square feet to 12,000 and making tweaks to the HVAC system among other items to bring the building within budget.
The library board will interview three candidates February 20 and appoint someone to fill a trustee seat now vacant since Jill Fisher’s resignation.
Two candidates, Jeff Collins and Library Alliance member Jim Dougherty have made their interest public.