The longest debate and only tie vote of Tuesday’s Haines Assembly meeting was over a proposal to improve the exterior of the public safety building.
The building houses the fire department, police department, some borough offices and the assembly chambers.
Borough Manager Debra Schnabel said the deteriorating building’s appearance has been a “source of embarrassment” for a while.
The project staff proposed would involve new siding to help with both appearance and energy costs. It would also include installation of a bathroom that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“What we’re trying to do is to simply deal with what you could call putting lipstick on a pig, I suppose,” Schnabel said. “But it’s to improve the efficiency a small amount and the look of the building.”
The proposed course of action starts with an about $30,000 engineer design contract. Borough staff estimate construction would cost between $350,000 and $500,000.
It would be a relatively short-term fix until the borough has money to build a completely new facility.
The cost of the project led the assembly to debate its options.
The group discussed the merits of a design/build approach, which uses just one contract for design and construction. That’s different than the proposed process of contracting separately with designer and construction companies.
“If what we’re doing is mostly cosmetic, I think it’s going to be hard to justify to the taxpayers why we’re spending that much money on engineering,” said Assemblyman Tom Morphet.
Public Facilities Director Brad Ryan was called in to answer some of these questions. He said a design/build contract would be more work for borough staff and wouldn’t necessarily lower the cost. It also wouldn’t guarantee a local contractor gets the job.
Ryan said this project could give the borough 20 years of a “decent-looking building.”
The assembly was split on whether to accept a $34,000 design contract with MRV Architects. Morphet, Sean Maidy and Tresham Gregg voted no. Heather Lende, Ron Jackson and Stephanie Scott voted yes. Mayor Jan Hill broke the tie vote in favor of the contract.
MRV’s design process will include multiple public meetings in Haines.