Bovina studying garage options

By Matthew J. Perry
The Bovina Town Board held its 2009 organizational meeting on January 13 and approved reappointments to most town posts and a new appointment to the town’s assessment review board.
Joan Burns received unanimous support to serve a five-year term on assessment review. Reappointments included Chuck McIntosh as deputy supervisor; Dale Downin as code enforcement officer; Josh Choquette as water superintendent; Langdon Chapman as town attorney; Joe Hanley as bookkeeper and budget officer; Bob Burgin as driveway inspector and Ed Weber as dog control officer.
Supervisor Tina Mole also announced that the town’s Web site “is up and ready to go” and can be found at Presently, the site includes contact information for town officials and hours for the court, town clerk and transfer station. Mole reported that the town will pay $65 to retain the domain name for five years in addition to a $100.30 annual fee.
The regular meeting of the board focused primarily on the plan for a new highway garage, which was revived last month. The town has commissioned Lamont Engineers to draft plans, which currently call for a three-bay, 60 foot by 48 foot building, plus an administrative wing, on the lot of the existing garage on county Route 6. Mole stated that the next step for the board would be to approve a final design agreement with Lamont.
Ultimately, the board chose to delay that approval for at least two weeks. Having set a low bar for cost—the town has set $400,000 as the high end for the total bill—board members requested more time to review details of the Lamont contract and of the building’s engineering. Essentially, the board is hoping to avoid paying twice for engineering oversight. Members were explicit that in holding off the finalization of the contract they were looking to cut costs, rather than questioning the quality of Lamont’s work.
The board scheduled a special workshop for January 27 at 6 p.m. to review the details of the contract. “We don’t want to tie ourselves up and not be able to save money,” said McIntosh, while arguing that the delay would not have a significant impact on the timing of the project.
Later, the board considered two factors that further complicate the garage plans: the fact that a three-bay structure is insufficient housing for the town’s highway equipment, and the sudden, unexpected drop in price of construction materials and fuel. McIntosh asked if it would make sense for the board to develop a bid alternate to the existing plans, which would include a six-bay shell and create cold storage for whatever would not fit into a three-bay garage.
“We’ve proposed six bays, two bays and three bays, but if you cut the building in half you don’t cut its cost in half,” McIntosh said. “And it’s a crime to be keeping a $100,000 grader outside.”
The recession has hit the construction industry hard and could drive bids down, which in turn might allow for more ambitious plans.
No action was decided upon, but the entire board seemed to support the logic. “I think it’s a good time to look into this,” McIntosh continued. “We’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
Board member Ken Brown opined that it would be “irresponsible” not to explore the option of a 6-bay shell, but he also asked what options would exist if the bid came in above $400,000. The board has been authorized to borrow no more than $200,000, which it will match with $200,000 from its Good Neighbor Fund.
The answer to Brown’s hypothetical question remained uncertain. Nevertheless, the board expressed willingness to explore possibilities. “I don’t see how it can hurt us,” said Mole.