Blooming Grove Town Hall Renovations Go Into Full Swing
Government Employees That Were Furloughed Given 60-Day Property Tax Extension
By Edie Johnson
Blooming Grove officials met in a work session this week, with the main topic being to delve directly into the plans for Phase I of a master rebuild for the Town Hall. Currently not acceptable to requirements for holding court sessions, there are some basic and significant changes that must be made. Of the easier items, folding chairs are not permitted in a courtroom. They will have to be replaced with fixed benches. Secondly, the entrance of prisoners must be kept separate from the building’s regular business. That means, for one thing, putting an entire new wall around the main meeting room so that prisoners can enter, and walk down the corridor to a secure room without seeing or having any opportunity to interact with other people, office workers, officials, or the judge. There will be added security at the front entrance as well, possibly security wands since they are believed to be both effective and lower in cost than other alternatives.
The first effect from this separation will be that the Men’s Lavatory will have to be removed, and the Women’s Lavatory will become Unisex and Handicap Accessible, with a latch and tag on the door. Currently anyone in a wheelchair has to be escorted via elevated to the lower floor. While council members were pretty much unilaterally not happy with this necessity, the situation is such that as Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said “There is simply no extra real estate in this building”. They had even hoped that an HVAC system downstairs that will be removed could open up a small amount of new space. However, as hard as they looked, the town’s engineers said that even that space will need to be used for new equipment.
The HVAC system, in fact, is the other big issue of the Phase 1 makeover. With warnings that “It’s not if it will entirely break down, but when”, there will need to be an entire new heating ventilating and air conditioning system, and with new walls going up it will be a challenge to accomplish the timing such that those who work in and visit town hall will not be subjected to excessive cold with installation not being completed at least until Spring, or excessive heat if it is not done by July or August. This brings an urgency to finishing the plans and having them go out for bid soon. Meanwhile, the heat is being turned way down by mid-afternoon so that the struggling equipment is not stressed 24 hours/day and will hopefully not break down entirely. There will be plans for temporary cooling if the new system is not functional in time for any hot weather.
Much of the work that will happen during Phase I will be done “In House”. This will save a great deal of money, and engineer Lyle Shute said he believes that the bathroom renovations will be the most costly aspect, though some of that work as well will be able to be done “In House”. But, Shute added “Make no mistake, the renovation will be disruptive.” The main registers for heating and air conditioning will also have to be replaced, thus requiring some areas of wall to be torn apart.. Because it’s a Level 2 alteration, and does not involve any load-bearing walls, there will only be a basic Building Permit required,. The hope is that the engineering designs will be ready to go out by March.
On the far horizon there will also be a Phase 2 Renovation, to add more space to the place that “currently has no real estate” that can be used for adding space, particularly for storage needs.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES GETTING A TAX EXTENSION IF FURLOUGHED
After some discussion, the board decided that as some other towns have done, they will offer a sixty- (60)-day extension of paying property taxes to any government workers that were put on furlough last month. There will be no added fees or fines. Anyone applying for such an extension just has to prove they are a valid government employee, and that they were furloughed.