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Capital Plan Committee Examines Human Services Annex Improvements

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Capital Plan Committee Examines Human Services Annex Improvements

Thursday, December 8, 2011
The Legislature's Capital Plan Review Committee today continued to examine plans to improve the new Human Services Annex building (formerly occupied by Carpet Bazaar) into space to be initially occupied by the County Office for the Aging (COFA). The intent is to configure the space as an office for COFA, which must vacate its space in the County Courthouse to accommodate court system needs, with the building also appropriate for future County uses, such as the Community Justice Center.

The committee, which had earlier reviewed preliminary architectural drawings and cost projections, today examined a more detailed, updated proposal and estimates, based on design development, presented by Graham Gillespie of HOLT Architects. Based on the updated information, it is now estimated that the project, including design and construction, will cost in the neighborhood of $1.3 million. $750,000 has been authorized for bonding by the Legislature, and legislators will need to amend that bonding authorization for the project, as presently configured, to move forward.

While some revisions have been made to accommodate the flexible use--'making the building suitable for future occupants such as the Justice Center--'much of the budget increase is needed to prepare the structure for County occupancy, meeting the basic standards of other county buildings. Much of that expense, according to Facilities Director Arel LeMaro, relates to the building shell and mechanicals, including abatements necessary to meet new and more strigent code requirements.

While Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera expressed some concern about extra cost that may arise from preparing the building for flexible use, Legislator Mike Lane noted that the committee with this project is following the will of the Legislature, which directed that the project be developed with potential occupancy by the Justice Center, and other possible future occupants, in mind.

Concerning the Center of Government project, County Administrator Joe Mareane asked that before the committee narrows its options and considers whether to recommend an addition to County Building C, at a projected construction cost of about $3 million, that it examine whether needs of the County Legislature could be met by permanently locating both Legislature chambers and offices on the second floor of the Old Courthouse. While locating those offices on the second floor is currently planned as a temporary option, with offices moving to the first floor later, Mareane suggested that permanent changes, respectful of the building's historic architecture, would avoid the need to displace Planning and the Ithaca Tompkins County Transportation Council from the first floor, and avoid the need for the Building C addition. LeMaro will examine options with Legislature staff, considering needs identified in past space needs studies, and will prepare design drawings for the Committee to review.