March 16, 2013
Homer considers village hall addition
HOMER — With the chances of purchasing the Homer post office building dwindling, the village is considering adding on to its offices at South Main Street, next to the Homer Fire Department.
A meeting for Mayor Genevieve Suits and trustees to discuss what the village might want in an addition was being planned this week, Suits said.
The village had hoped to purchase the post office building at 2 S. Main St, and then lease a portion of the building back to the post office, Suits said Monday, and made an initial inquiry about a year ago.
“We heard right before Christmas that it would be quite some time,” Suits said, referring to the building’s sale.
If the post office building were to be sold, it would be offered to federal and state agencies before the village, Suits said at a Village Board meeting on March 5.
While Suits has not given up on the post office building, she suggested reviewing previous addition plans to the North Main Street building that were drawn up in April of 2011 by Timothy Buhl, a professional engineer based in Locke.
In December 2010, the village decided to stay in its current offices after leaving its offices in the Town Hall at 31 N. Main St., after citing adverse health effects from high levels of carbon monoxide.
The village and its five employees also filed notices in December 2010 that claimed workers suffered carbon monoxide intoxication solely because of the town’s negligence and reserved their right to file a lawsuit against the town for a year.
No lawsuit was ever filed, Village Attorney Patrick Perfetti said Thursday, and the village employees’ claims were settled through workers’ compensation insurance.
At the time the notice was filed, it was unclear how the situation would be resolved, and Perfetti said he acted before the 90-day window to file a notice closed.
“That’s the only reason it was filed,” he said.
The village’s current building has left employees looking for a little elbow room.
The village offices are very cramped, Suits said, comparing the village employees to “sardines in a can.”
A new addition would be a one-story extension to the right and back of the building, Suits said, and would be contained on village property.
Buhl said he had not been contacted about another addition.
The previous plan called for a 14-by-21-foot addition to the back of the village building, he said.
“The addition was just basically one room,” Buhl said, and included more space for the village clerk room and storage.
That plan attached the addition to the back of the existing building, he said.
“It really wouldn’t have done a whole lot to the parking lot,” Buhl said, with only one or two spaces being sacrificed.
Buhl did not have an estimate of how much the addition would have cost, and understood that village personnel were doing price estimates and planned to do the construction work themselves.
If the village bought its own materials and built the addition using village workers, that would be the cheapest way to add on, Buhl said, and construction would probably take a couple of months. If the village hired a contractor, the construction time would be a few weeks shorter.
“It would be faster with a contractor, there’s no question about that,” Buhl said.
The village has not considered moving back into the Town Hall, Suits said.
According to the filed legal claim, the town allowed certain utilities to operate in the Town Hall that “hazardously produce carbon monoxide and/or such carbon monoxide was present without being properly vented” from the village’s office space in the Town Hall.
Health complaints the five employees listed as afflictions they believed were related to carbon monoxide intoxication included dizziness, vertigo, nausea, headache, reduced blood oxygenation, and loss of vision and hearing.
The town brought in the state Department of Health and contracted Microbac Labs in Polkville to test the air for carbon monoxide in November of 2010.
Tests revealed carbon monoxide levels were well within acceptable standards, Town Supervisor Fred Forbes said in December 2010.
Suits noted that the village owns the building it is in and does not pay rent, which it would have to do if it moved back to the Town Hall.
Former village Mayor Michael McDermott said in December 2010 that it cost about $1,200 a month to lease and heat the space in the Town Hall.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe