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Massena Village Planning Board waiting for county decision on SeaComm expansion

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MASSENA - The proposed SeaComm Federal Credit Union expansion project in Massena will undergo a full review by the St. Lawrence County Planning Board.

SeaComm President and Chief Executive Officer Scott A. Wilson, as well as engineer Thomas Pahler, appeared before the village’s Planning Board this week to provide updates on the proposed project.

The duo showed the village officials footprints of the proposed layout design at the 30 Stearns St. building.

“Basically what we’re doing is, we’re going to add two stories. Here we have the footprint of the existing building and it’s an L-shape,” Mr. Pahler said. “What’s going to really happen is, (the lobby portion) will be taken out because the foundations were set up for only one story, and we’ve got to go two stories. So we’re almost obligated to have to take the whole excavation down to the foundations and bring it up so it will support these stories.”

The project would consolidate the Andrews Street branch into the Stearns Street headquarters, and Mr. Wilson said it will lead to additional employment opportunities.

He has said the expansion will create about 50 construction jobs and 18 full-time jobs, while also retaining 106 positions.

Mr. Wilson confirmed on Wednesday that the main branch will remain open throughout the construction work.

“(The construction) is basically in three phases. There’s an existing storage building in the back and this will be phase one - just establishing this into a parking lot area - just shy of an acre. And what that would consist of during construction time is the staging ground for materials.” Mr. Pahler said.

“Phase two - the area that is currently a parking lot portion - they’re going to build it up to two stories and while that’s taking place, the lobby is going to be operational. What they’re going to do is block the construction roadway and they’re going to take traffic in from the little driveway for in and out traffic. (Customers) will come back into the existing parking lot and cycle through the drive-thrus and also be able to access the lobby at that time. This will go on until the two stories are complete and the downstairs is finished enough to a point where that can be occupied.”

The planned expansion will cost $5.8 million and will result in the closing of SeaComm’s Main Street branch and Andrews Street office space. P.W. Campbell of Pittsburgh, Pa., will act as the building’s design firm.

The Stearns Street location will receive an additional 15,870 square feet of space to accommodate the merger with the 79 Main St. branch, Call Center and additional staff necessary to support the expanded service offerings and regulatory requirements.

Mr. Pahler said that phase three will involve the installation of two drive-thru lanes, as well as concierge and self-serve kiosks and expanded employee parking. All member-related services will be moved, and the expansion will allow them to plan for growth of adequate office and conference space.

“The drive-thrus will be closed for this phase of it. What’s going to happen - they’ll be some temporary trailers that will suffice or at least operate as a drive-thru during this time,” Mr. Pahler said.

“They look like shipping containers and will actually have a drive-thru window and air conditioning and they’re like pods. We’re going to be putting three of those pods in the back area, and they’ll be staggered so that cars can come in and out and be able to be serviced during that whole construction phase,” Mr. Wilson said.

The group’s president added that their goal is to have all of the construction work done by December.

Code enforcement secretary Avis Hazelton pointed out that the county will be meeting on April 10 and are planning to review the expansion project.

“If there are conditions and we go with the conditions and say ‘OK, you have to do them,’ that’s fine. If our board decides ‘No, they’re asking too much,’ than we have to have a supermajority to override the county,” Ms. Hazelton said.

The village’s Planning Board will be addressing the SeaComm expansion at their following meeting on April 23.

In other action Wednesday evening, the Planning Board approved a signage request from Zoom Tan, 162 Harte Haven.

Northeastern Sign Corporation Owner Mike Crosley, South Colton, will be installing the new sign this spring for the business.

The national chain of tanning salons opened a store at the Harte Haven Plaza in January.

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