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Lewis office project nearly set for bid; October vote possible

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County’s office building project finally is expected to go out to bid next week, setting up a possible early October vote on whether to proceed with construction.

“This is all going to depend on what the bids come in as,” Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Jack T. Bush, R-Brantingham, said following a 2-hour session Thursday to discuss final details with architects.

Plans are to seek bids for five contracts — general construction, mechanical, plumbing, electrical and site work — through Sept. 19, according to Rick W. Tague, president of Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, which is designing the project.

If contracts were awarded at the legislators’ Oct. 1 meeting, contractors could mobilize by mid-October, allowing for completion by the end of November 2014, he said.

While site work often is done by the general contractor, this project — which also would include drainage and parking lot improvements at the adjacent Public Safety and Department of Social Services buildings — includes enough work that savings may be gained by bidding it out separately, Mr. Tague said.

Along with the base bids, contractors will be asked to submit alternate bids for possible additional work, including installation of high-density shelving at DSS, more extensive parking lot rehabilitation throughout the outer Stowe Street complex and use of stamped concrete for sidewalks.

Legislators in March narrowly voted to go out to bid on a two-story, 45,000-square-foot building on outer Stowe Street that would house the Department of Social Services, 911 dispatch center, Department of Motor Vehicles, Board of Elections, Office for the Aging and Highway Department administration.

Project detractors — including some candidates running for seats on the Legislature this fall — have balked at the cost of the estimated $11 million project.

However, supporters suggest that putting up a new building would be the best long-term move by eliminating any lease-related constraints, consolidating county offices into a few major complexes rather than scattering them all over the village, and using $4.5 million to $5 million in state Department of Social Services funding that would not be available for nonconstruction options.

County officials don’t expect significant savings from eliminating rent, since a new building would increase maintenance costs.

Since the March approval, design completion has been delayed by subsequent floor-plan changes, including some intended to offer better security in the second-floor DSS portion of the proposed building.

At Thursday’s session, architects reviewed all outstanding issues with legislative committee members, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Frank J. Archer and representatives of Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., Syracuse, which has been selected as the project’s construction manager.

Bernier, Carr officials said site work for the project would be done in phases, beginning at the new building site, then working back to the front of the Public Safety Building and finishing up with the parking lot outside the current DSS building.

Asked by Legislator Jerry H. King, R-West Leyden, if any work could be done this year, architects suggested that a fair amount of foundation and utility work and even steel erection could by completed, depending on the weather.

County legislators are planning to solicit proposals soon from firms interested in removing a storage building near the site of the proposed building and putting up a new one elsewhere at the complex.

Earlier this month, they also authorized Bernier, Carr to run a camera through Stowe Street sewer pipes, at a projected cost of $3,000 to $3,500, to determine if upgrades would be needed to accommodate the new building.

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