By David Prenatt
RIPLEY - The Ripley Town Board decided recently to begin negotiations with the Ripley Central School District about the possibility of moving the town offices into the school building.
After reviewing the results of a study by the design firm Clark Patterson Lee of Jamestown, outlining the approximate costs of four different options, council members agreed renting space from the school was the most cost-effective. Other options were: renovating the existing building; building a new office building; or renovating an existing structure on Main Street.
The current building on Park Street is in disrepair and contains several structural issues. It is also not handicap accessible.
The study states, "The current town hall building does not comply with baseline Americans with Disabilities Act concepts. The cost to bring the building into full compliance would be substantial, but are absolutely mandatory."
Required modifications include an elevator, an at-grade entry and modifications to stairs, doors, bathrooms and hallways.
The study also lists structural issues with the current building as well as "functional obsolescence," meaning the offices no longer meet the needs of the town and court.
Structural issues listed include cable tensile wires stabilizing the foundation, water and moisture penetration and the need to replace the roof within five years. Also, the windows are energy inefficient, resulting in higher utility costs.
Of the four options, the study cites moving into the school as, "the most straight forward and lowest cost project to complete." The total capital cost for this option is estimated at $97,320.
In the school building, the town would occupy a 7,000-square-foot space already up-to-date and compliant with all regulations. Furthermore, the town would not be responsible for the upkeep of the roof or building shell. The restrooms are oversized, and the offices would be located closer to the center of town.
The study estimates the capital cost to renovate the existing building at $846,195. Several "key" projects would be required, including adding 1,000 square feet of space, shoring up the foundation and pouring new walls to brace it, installing an elevator and creating a graded entrance.
Option three, to build a new building on Main Street, would cost an estimated $1,447,999 according to the study. Costs were based on a 5,000 square foot building using 2013 bids and estimates for municipal work.
The study estimated interior costs for option four - renovating an existing building on Main Street - at $1,012,500. This does not include site acquisition.
In other business, council heard from Ripley resident Richard Eimers, who said the town was not distributing dirt from projects properly. According to state law, once dirt is loaded onto a town truck, it is considered government surplus and should be offered for sale or distribution to residents, Eimers said. However, dirt from projects in Ripley was being hauled to a site on Belson Road.
"When you take it where you want to take it without sale or government distribution, it's like taking extra asphalt and paving your own driveway," Eimers said. "It is totally wrong. Unfair distribution almost borders on corruption."
Town Supervisor Doug Bowen said he would speak with Highway Supervisor Michael Knight about the issue. When contacted later, he noted the dirt taken to Belson Road was used within the boundaries of Ripley, not in Westfield as Eimers had said.