Bovina highway garage hearing tabled over project cost concerns

Board wants time to explore options

By Matthew J. Perry
Bovina Supervisor Tina Mole canceled a March 17 public hearing on the town’s proposed highway garage project, stating that the town needed more time to review estimates and plans that would create less strain on the town’s finances.
A date for the next review is yet to be determined.
This announcement came at the town’s regular board meeting on March 11. At the same meeting, planning board member Lynn Resch was invited to read a prepared letter that declared the location of the existing garage, which was presumed to be the site of the new structure at an earlier informational meeting, presents a hazard to both the safety and aesthetics of the hamlet. Resch further argued that insufficient consideration was given to sites outside the hamlet.
Mole stated that the town needed to see more detailed plans for a wood-frame structure, which could be a less expensive option. Doug Van Deusen of Lamont Engineers, who presented plans to the town at a March 4 meeting, told the Catskill Mountain News that, due to fluctuating prices for building materials, it would be difficult to confirm what the price of timber vs. steel columns might be once the town is ready to begin construction. “We’re still in the preliminary stages of building development,” he said. “The doors haven’t been closed on any options.”
On March 4, Mole had expressed the conviction that the town could not afford the upper ranges of Lamont’s estimates, which could top $1 million with residual and soft costs factored in. She maintained that position on March 11, once again asking the highway committee to make a thorough assessment of the plans, with cost cutting in mind.
Resch used the term “white elephant” to describe what she perceived as a measure to make a cramped town even more so. “This plan is not considering the safety and welfare of the community.
“Spending over $1 million building a highway garage and storage facility on a postage-sized lot on the Main Street of an historical designated hamlet stifles growth, lacks vision for the future, threatens public safety and wastes taxpayers’ money,” she wrote. She went on to argue that one site in particular, the Inman farm on county Route 5, is much closer to the town’s salt storage facility, has existing power and water systems and could be a better fit with an earlier plan to place the town hall at the same location as the garage. Plans for a new garage on the existing site do not include any new town offices, except for the highway crew.
Lamont Engineers’ rough figures estimated that rebuilding on the existing site would save the town over $100,000 that would be needed to purchase and outfit a three- to five-acre parcel of land for a new garage.
The town must also choose a new insurance carrier before April 1, when the existing policy will lapse. Tim Parsons, of Mang Insurance, presented quotes from several insurers before the town council, but focused on the details of a policy from New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal. Parsons described NYMIR as an A-rated, “very solvent” cooperative that could offer the town competitive rates and the opportunity to reassess its holdings, many of which are underinsured. Since NYMIR is owned by an association of townships, Parsons noted, they have a vested interest in preventing claims before they happen; to that end, the insurer would require Bovina to produce a comprehensive employee handbook, encourage taking out a pollution policy and a higher umbrella limit.
NYMIR quoted a $14,581 price tag for the policy, plus a capitalization free of $951 to be paid annually for five years. The coverage could be more extensive than with other carriers, Parsons argued, because there are no stockholders whose sole interest is profit. As a cooperative, he stated, “they don’t come in and try to make headaches, they try to solve problems.”
The town will vote on the award of the insurance contract on March 24 at 6 p.m.