CHAZY LAKE — Local officials are adjusting to work life at the new Dannemora Town Hall after years of planning, construction and delays.
And ongoing water problems there could cost the town more money.
Personnel and town services moved into the new building in late December and began daily operations there Jan. 6.
“We’ve been busy trying to settle into the new building,” Supervisor William “Bill” Chase said of the Higby Road Town Hall and Highway Department.
Officials had hoped to move from the former Town Hall in the Village of Dannemora last fall, but a series of construction delays prolonged the long-awaited transition.
With only a handful of final touches left, officials are now working to address issues that arose from the initial construction, such as mildew and water-system flaws.
“There’s still work to be done, pretty minor stuff, but still work to be done,” AES Northeast architect David Whitford told councilors during a recent Town Council meeting.
“Other than that, we’re in the close-out phase.”
Whitford said his firm was remaining in close contact with contractors as the work was being finalized. He volunteered to investigate the source of an existing moisture problem in exterior sockets.
That issue and associated mildew complications stemmed from initial designs and construction, before AES Northeast came aboard, officials said.
“We’ll just continue to close out the project and help get you through it,” Whitford told the council.
The building has also been plagued by water-system issues, including mineral contamination, odor and an under-sized well pump.
AES Engineer Nathan Bull said preliminary tests of the well confirmed secondary contamination from minerals, such as iron and manganese.
Water tests also showed elevated levels of chlorides, likely from previous onsite salt storage from the Highway Department.
No bacterial contamination was detected.
“Your water has a handful of issues with water quality, and your well pump is undersized” for daily projected use, Bull said.
“So we’re recommending a water-filtration system and pump upgrade.”
The Town Hall’s water supply is currently not drinkable, and while it has not been deemed a public-water supply, which would require treatment and filtration, Bull told councilors, “we feel that you need a treatment system here.
“It’s just going to continue to be a problem.”
Bull said officials could try flushing the well, which “may help” and would cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000, but he isn’t optimistic it would solve the ongoing problem.
“We wouldn’t really expect there to be an improvement (based on the test results),” he said.
He feels the new system would be the most effective, long-term solution to the mineral contamination, which has also contributed to the water odor.
Engineers, still working on plans for the possible new system, said it could cost between $20,000 and $30,000.
The new system would require annual maintenance and would not fully filter the water supplied to the Highway Department for washing trucks and other non-consumptive uses.
If approved, Bull said, it would take roughly four weeks for equipment to arrive and about three weeks for installation.
Engineers plan to present their final design at the next regular meeting, to be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 26, when a more exact financial estimate is expected.
The building project, which was originally projected to cost $2 million, has been underway since 2008, when the town purchased the steel framework for the structure.
But the early plans and anticipated costs were blindsided by the New Year Day fire in 2010 that destroyed the town Highway Garage and forced an expedited construction process, resulting in higher costs and a series of unexpected delays, officials say.
Town leaders have discussed possible legal action regarding the problems, including possible penalties for contractors not meeting the final Sept. 24 project end date.