April 24, 2012

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Diana wins early approval for funds to design new government center

Architect's rendering

GOSHEN – Orange County Executive Edward Diana's proposal for a new $75 million government center edged out a win Monday afternoon during a joint meeting of the Physical Services and Ways and Means committees of the county legislature, where his resolution to bond $14.6 million for costs associated with designing a new building passed by a narrow 5-4 margin.

The funds would be applied towards engineering, architecture, construction management and environmental review on Diana's proposal, which includes $10 million worth of renovations to older outlying government buildings such as the 1887 Building and 1841 Courthouse. This includes upgrades the county-hired team from LaBella Associates deemed essential, such as HVAC, plumbing, roof and window replacements and ADA-compliance.

The resolution will see the full legislature on May 3, where Diana will need 14 votes to secure the way forward with a new building.

Diana said only a new building requires an environmental review process.   --- "In order to get that done to the level it should be done, we need to at least engineer and design the new building, at least the footprint of it."

As of now, Diana's $85 million project composed of a $75 million facility and $10 million in renovations is the only concrete proposal on the table. Renovation costs have ranged from LaBella's approximation of $67 million to as low as $35 million from a firm called NASCO, which has been touted by citizens against a new facility.

Diana and engineer Al Fusco spent a large part of the meeting illustrating, line by line, that the latter report did not include an $8.5 million addition,  $6.5 million veneer nor many of the other flood mitigating measure's his firm integrated in their estimate. Fusco stood by his cost estimate for renovation, saying that both studies were based on pre-flood conditions.

Ideas continue to percolate among legislators, from Matthew Turnbell's idea to completely gut the building and reoccupy it to Michael Anagnostakis, who postulated that they should simply continue to lease other buildings in Goshen to save on construction and bonding costs, using the money instead on roads and bridges.

With thousands of pages of reports, studies and analyses consumed already by the Orange County Legislature, there is a palpable sense of fatigue on this divisive issue.

Patrick Berardinelli, who co-chaired Monday's committee, said the government and people of Goshen deserve a new building, but also that he'd just like to see a decision made one way or the other.

"We’ve heard the dollar amounts. Everybody has their own number. We're never going to know until we start building, or renovating or knocking down what that total dollar amount is going to be. And to think that if you change course this late in the game is going to solve the problem, it's only going to create more problems," Berardinelli said.


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