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The Elma Town Board on Wednesday discussed the need for more room to conduct town business, and invited R&D Engineering to the next session to pursue the feasibility of a new Town Hall to be built on the site of the existing one.

Town Hall, a former schoolhouse, is overcrowded to the point that staff members use the boiler room to take breaks and eat lunch.

The board would like to see the current building demolished and a new one built on the site extending to Rice Road.

Preliminary cost figures were put at $1.5 million.

Supervisor Audrey Murdoch noted that this is substantially lower than the $3 million for a Town Hall proposed for Rice Road several years ago and rejected by voters in a special referendum.

Councilman Sal Valvo said the current site in the center of town is very convenient. A rough draft for a new building drawn a year ago calls for a larger court room and more parking and incorporates space for the Sheriff's Department substation.

An atrium would allow people to congregate and line up for court so they won't have to wait outside in inclement weather.

"You don't see that in other towns like you do in Elma," Murdoch said.

"We need a proposal to finance it. While no grants are available to build town halls, low interest rates are," she added.

A referendum would be required, and the board will try to get it on the ballot this year. Getting it on the November ballot would save the town the cost of a special election.

Department heads will be asked to submit in writing what their departments will need in square footage to adequately perform their jobs over the next 10 years. Councilman Bill Cirocco said he hoped the plan includes a room for board members.

"I'm storing file cabinets in my basement now," he said.

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