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The city is hiring an engineer to pinpoint the costs of reconstructing the Broadway Garage.

Public Works Commissioner Joseph N. Giambra also announced that officials have been looking at existing buildings to see if any can be transformed into a new operations center for the city's Streets Sanitation Division.

The $10,000 consultant study and real estate search comes several weeks after state inspectors found numerous health and safety violations in the city's aging garage at 197 Broadway. In January, a dispatcher filed a notice with the state Labor Department alleging that the garage was a safety hazard.

Giambra claimed repairs have been made that address immediate safety concerns, but he pointed to the need to study long-range solutions.

"We want to study various options, including reconstructing the Broadway Garage, relocating to an existing building or constructing a brand new garage at a different site," said Giambra.

Jansen-Kiener Consulting Engineers of Buffalo will be paid $10,000 to outline design options and prepare cost estimates.

A report done six years ago examined renovation options at the garage, Giambra said. Officials have estimated that renovations would cost between $7 million and $10 million, while building a new garage would likely cost $17 million to $20 million.

The administration has been criticized by the union that represents city blue-collar workers for taking a "Band-Aid approach" to repairing the garage. The union noted that a large chunk of a cement ceiling crashed 20 feet to the floor last month. Union leaders also blamed recent on-the-job injuries to slippery floors caused by the leaky roof.

But Giambra said the Masiello administration tried unsuccessfully a few years ago to move the operations into a new home. City lawmakers gave the administration permission to negotiate a lease with a local company to build a new garage on Seneca Street and lease it back to the city, with an option to purchase.

But the Common Council balked at the estimated $17 million the owner planned to charge the city over a 10- to 15-year period.

As city officials revisit the issue, Giambra said it is important to review all options, including possible relocation to an existing structure.

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