MALONE -- Franklin County will set aside $20,000 to $32,000 to update a $15,000 study it commissioned in 2000 to review its space needs in the County Courthouse and other sites.

Some information from the original study may be useful for comparisons of space-requirement predictions made back then to see if they hold true.

But, other than that, "we're back where we started five years ago," said Mike Reynolds, an engineer with Beardsley Design Associates, which performed the original study and will update it.

The original document recommended two $3.5 million construction plans that would have renovated several hundred square feet of space throughout the building and added a fifth floor to the newer section of the County Courthouse.

Little or no action took place on the recommendations, but the space crunch continued until some offices, including the Public Health Nursing Services, Office for the Aging and others, moved out.

They went to property on Catherine Street that the county is leasing for five years at a cost of $9,000 a month plus utilities.

Since the last study was finished, the District Attorney's Office, County Manager's Office, Public Defender's Office and others have been reconfigured, moved or, in some cases, enlarged to meet current and future space needs.

But, Reynolds said, much of the shuffling was done out of necessity, not by pro-active planning, as had been recommended in the original study.

Because those office changes have been made, the conclusions of the original study are altered and are now too inaccurate to follow.

Therefore, an entire new space study is needed, he said.

This time, Reynolds is recommending that legislators sit in on some of the interviews his agency conducts with department heads to hear their problems and needs first-hand so they will be better informed about their options when the report is finished and recommendations are outlined.

He said the larger county departments that may see the most expansion and change in the next five, 10 and 15 years would be in the interviews to hear for themselves.

Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) said space needs are critical in the southern end of the county, where county offices are leased for the Department of Motor Vehicles satellite office, Public Health nurses, the District Attorney's Office and others.

Property in that area is being offered to the county, but he doesn't want to lose out on an opportunity to make a deal if the space study is going to take a long time to complete.

Reynolds said the needs of the south end could be looked at first, before the courthouse and the County Jail and Emergency Services Building.

"Saranac Lake is a difficult place to find space," the engineer said. "If you have an opportunity, don't let it go by. Saranac Lake was a hot spot in 2000 as an area of concern."

draymo@pressrepublican.com

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