LOCKPORT – Niagara County leaders are again considering a new Public Works Department facility, but this time it could be significantly scaled back from the failed plan of six years ago.
It would still be built on Junction Road in Cambria, where the county bought 60 acres of land for the project for $180,000 in 2008.
However, the County Legislature called a halt to planning when it received a $42 million cost estimate for the new complex, which was to include the Public Works offices, a highway equipment garage and extras such as space to store the county’s voting machines.
This time, the project may include only a highway garage to replace the aging building on South Niagara Street in Lockport, according to Richard W. Eakin, deputy public works commissioner for buildings and grounds.
The Legislature is to vote Tuesday on paying the Wendel engineering firm of Amherst $18,500 to come up with a floor plan and exterior renderings of the building.
“It’s my understanding we’re going to be supplied with more alternatives than we were before,” said Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport.
He suggested a possible “hybrid” facility to store the county’s trucks with the possibility of future additions.
The resolution on Tuesday’s agenda speaks of “determining what departments should be identified to be included in a Phase I construction.”
No cost estimate for the eventual construction has been determined, Eakin said.
Referring to the 2008 stop order, Updegrove said. “A lot of things have changed since then, but the deterioration of the building Public Works is housed in has not changed.”
Eakin said he received results of an infrared scan of the South Niagara Street building’s roof last Monday. “That entire roof is pretty well shot,” Eakin said.
Nevertheless, he said it might be worthwhile to repair the roof even if a new building is erected in Cambria. He said the building could be used for keep vehicles under cover during seasons they’re not in use – “cold storage,” he called it, implying the building wouldn’t be heated, at least not to the degree it is now.
Updegrove recalled that there had been talk of acquiring the abandoned state Department of Transportation garage on West Avenue in Lockport. In 2009, the state Office of General Services offered it to the county for $1.
The county rejected the offer then, deciding that the vacant state building was in extremely poor condition and contained asbestos and mold.
Eakin said everything wrong with the old DOT building then is “six years worse now.”
Wendel has been under contract for the Public Works building’s design since 2008, when it was awarded a $545,740 consulting contract. Its new report is due by Dec. 31.