Woodstock’s town office renovation project at the Comeau property may not require any borrowed money if an unused grant can be reallocated and a sales and mortgage tax windfall is used.
Because the town could not come to an agreement on development of reed beds at its wastewater treatment plant to reduce the reliance on sludge being trucked up north for treatment, grant money for that project may be available for the office renovation.
“A number of years ago, we got a grant for $250,000 for the reed beds,” said Woodstock Supervisor Bill McKenna at the December 13 Town Board meeting. And while I really wanted to see that project happen, there has not been agreement with the DEC about the reeds that we can use and whether they’d be acceptable. (Outgoing state assemblyman) Kevin Cahill, who helped secure that grant, gave me a call the other day and asked if there was anything else…a big project we might consider. I said we’re in the middle of a renovation and addition here up on the Comeau. And he said ‘Great. The Jeremy Wilber Supervisor’s Cottage,’” referring to the former town supervisor, who died in 2017.
“Together with the $100,000 grant that (State) Senator (Michelle) Hinchey secured…gives us $350,000 of the $1 million we need to bond,” McKenna continued. “I have not finished crunching the numbers, but I believe that the unappropriated fund balance and the bit of a windfall we’ve had with sales tax and mortgage tax this year, that we actually could do the project without (bond) funding at all.”
A decision to use the extra funds will be made at the town council’s year-end meeting December 29.
The renovations, designed by Walker Architecture, will make the offices ADA compliant and accessible by bringing all the public spaces onto the first floor through an addition in the rear of the main building.
The second floor will be used for some office and storage space and heavy file cabinets will be moved into separate file rooms for each department, making things easier to access and taking the tremendous weight off the second floor.
Each department will have its own filing area. Windows in the original building will be replaced as well as the HVAC system. A new geothermal system will remove the need for window air conditioners. The supervisor’s cottage will get an energy efficiency renovation and the leveling of uneven floors will make it more accessible.
Last November, voters approved a $1 million bond to supplement $1.9 million already in capital reserves to fund the project. The town has committed to a $3 million project cap and will make adjustments to keep within that cost.
Bids approved from the various contractors total $2,877,402, though changes at various stages can alter that amount. The cement foundation for the addition was recently poured, beating the winter freeze that makes breaking ground much more difficult.