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Henderson reboots new building project

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HENDERSON — The town will restart its plans to build a new town office building after an apparent miscommunication with its developer.

The town will seek out a new engineer and architect for the project and also will consider repurposing the Henderson Fire District building.

Councilman George H. Aubin, who chairs the town’s New Building Committee, said the change in plans may mean delays and extra costs for the project.

“We’re not trying to put up a new building that will be a big cost to the taxpayer,” Mr. Aubin said. “If we’ve got to wait another year or two, that’s what we’ve got to do.”

The town originally consulted G&I Homes, Frankfort, to develop plans and create a prefabricated building at Town Barn Road and County Route 178, near the town’s current office.

However, the company pulled out in May after it learned that its plans would have to go out to public bid before construction could begin.

“You can’t design something, then bid on it,” David J. Bushey, one of the owners of G&I Homes, said Monday. He said that kind of action is unethical.

The town has built up $600,000 in reserves over the past few budgets to pay for the building. Supervisor Raymond A. Walker said the plan to use one company for the whole project was an attempt to save money.

Before the decision, the town invested only a $2,000 down payment to create plans for the building, which was returned when the developer dropped out of the planning process. However, the plans already developed were kept by the company, meaning the town had to start again.

Mr. Bushey said his company may be interested in working with the town again once new plans are done by a different entity.

At the Town Council’s meeting Wednesday, council members spoke in favor of seeking a new engineer and architect to renew the project.

Mr. Aubin displayed a new set of floor plans he had drawn himself as a template for planning.

At 50 by 86 feet, or 4,300 square feet, the building under consideration is considerably larger than the initial size of 60 by 62 feet, or 3,720 square feet. However, the new drawing did not include the basement space in the initial plan.

The new building is considered necessary as town officials voiced complaints that they do not have any desk space and that they lack the privacy to discuss personal information over the phone.

Another option on the table is for the town to purchase the Henderson Fire District building, an idea formally presented by members of the fire district to the Town Council on Wednesday. The proposal had been brought up informally in the past.

“It’s a win-win situation if we can use it,” Mr. Aubin said. “We can buy it for a reasonable price and be able to modify it to our needs.”

However, a few potential hurdles stand in the way of the project, primarily the selling price of the building.

The fire district, which earlier in June postponed an expansion of its building because of a lack of funding, has expressed interest in creating a new building of its own, possibly using the proceeds from such a sale.

Mr. Aubin said the fire district building would be something the town would have to consider.

“Is there enough room down there?” he said. “What will it cost to get it down there?”

Another hurdle pointed out by Mr. Walker is that the transfer of such a property to the town may require a referendum by residents.

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