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NORTH COLLINS STILL SEEKING A HOME

The Town of North Collins is more than 150 years old and still homeless.

In the state's only town without a municipal building, the town clerk works from the enclosed front porch of her house while the supervisor operates from a back room in his home. The Town Board borrows the Village of North Collins' municipal building for its meetings.

It's not that town officials don't want a home of their own. Since the 1950s, trustees have floated several proposals to build town halls -- only to fall short because of a disputed cost estimate.

Town Clerk Margaret Orrange estimated that, over 50 years, the town has spent thousands of dollars on planning for a town hall.

Hopes were high as recently as the town's sesquicentennial celebration in 2002, when Town Board members designated 11133 Gowanda State Road as the site for a municipal building.

Although soil tests are under way, plans remain in the proposal stage with no shovel nearing the ground, officials said. The most recent bid for the project was rejected last September.

The board discussed the stalemate during its meeting last week.

"The original proposal brought in bids of $1 million and has been revised now to try to lower the cost of the building so we can rebid it," Councilwoman Marian Vanni said.

Supervisor Thomas O'Boyle said costs for materials, wages and Wicks Law requirements, which mandate multiple contracts for public works projects, could conspire to keep the town homeless.

"A building that will cost a private citizen $200,000 -- we received bid on the same building for a million dollars," O'Boyle said.

But Orrange, who said the building's cost could be covered by a rural development grant in tandem with a 20-year bond or a 30-year mortgage, noted construction costs continue to rise.

The board also:

Reviewed the highway budget and agreed to a five-year, $150,000 bond-anticipation note to purchase a snowplow.

Scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. April 27 with the Village Board to review intermunicipal contracts.

Scheduled a meeting with the historical society for 6:30 p.m. May 4 to discuss a lease agreement.

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