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Aurora officials will consider new proposal for town office space

Aurora town officials have delayed approving a nearly $900,000 bond resolution they were pushing for improvements at their Gleed Avenue building.

In an unexpected development, officials announced they just received a new option for town office space -- one that deserves study.

The proposal and its cost were not released. The proposal was presented during a meeting of the Aurora Town Library board and town and village officials earlier Monday.

The new proposal -- which would put town and village offices and the expanded library under one roof -- was drafted last week by Alvin Fontanese, a retired architect and trustee on the library board, which has long argued for more space. Fontanese's plan mirrors the concept of a joint facility on the Main Street site of the existing library, with a second-floor addition on the library for town and village offices, and an expanded library on the first floor.

Fontanese's plan differs from an earlier shared municipal building proposal for nearly $9 million that involved buying land across from the library as part of a $400,000 state-backed study that Aurora later rejected, saying it could not afford it. There were indications that the Fontanese plan would cost less than $9 million but more than Gleed renovations of eventually $2 million or more over two phases.

"It's a very simple situation," Fontanese said after the town meeting. His proposal calls for a second-story addition to the library of about 8,500 square feet to house town and village offices. The library would be expanded by about 4,800 square feet by pushing out its rear wall to total nearly 13,000 square feet.

"The library board asked me to come up with something," Fontanese said. "Nobody would get cheated out of any space. I'm confident it is a workable scheme. I'm hopeful it will save enough money," Fontanese said.

Town leaders said they wanted to give the new proposal a serious look over the next two weeks, so they postponed any action on moving forward with the Gleed plan, which was to go to referendum soon.

"The big deal right now is to get the numbers. The drawing looks interesting, but we have no numbers to go with it," Councilman James Collins said.

The town last month said the most fiscally prudent option was for town offices to finally move into the Gleed building purchased a few years ago. They were on the verge of putting out a $877,000 referendum for first-phase upgrades. Town offices are still housed on the Roycroft campus.

The latest proposal would involve buying just one piece of property near the library, and Fontanese said the property owner is willing to sell. The expanded library would include a multiuse room for all three entities and a main entrance for the town, village and library off Whaley Avenue, while a facade and entrance would still remain on Main Street. Eleven parking spaces would be provided, two of them for handicapped use, with additional parking sought across Whaley near where the new fire hall is proposed.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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