Gloversville Common Council approves emergency RFPs
Mayor Vincent DeSantis introduced the emergency resolutions during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, providing background details on the issues facing the city the RFPs would potentially seek to address.
According to a study conducted by LaMont Engineering of Cobleskill in 2016, there is a combined total of 1,568 catch basins and manholes throughout the city, about half of which require replacement.
“What holds that catch basin up is a masonry box and those boxes are collapsing. They’re made out of brick and what happens if it collapses is you end up having parts of the blacktop around the catch basin that form sinkholes,” DeSantis said. “On top of that, we have a problem with the manhole covers. Many people have noticed that the manhole covers are turning into potholes, because they’re sinking into the pavement.”
Department of Public Works Director Dale Trumbull noted that in 2018 his goal was to replace 50 of the brick catch basins with a precast concrete catch basins that last longer and require less maintenance, however the city department was only able to replace 35 while keeping up with other normal duties.
“At that rate we will never be able to catch up with the need, so the resolution that I have is to send out an RFP to seek proposals from private enterprises that might be willing to contract with the city to do this work so that we could get a whole lot of them done and try to get a handle on solving the problem,” DeSantis said.
Councilman-at-Large Steven Smith said that ahead of the meeting he reviewed the study conducted by LaMont that estimated the cost of replacing each catch basin at about $6,800 and recommended the replacement in phases of 90 catch basins at a cost of about $650,000 per stage.
Smith, an engineer, said the scope of the work detailed by LaMont may be in excess of what is required, including a call for the replacement of steel frames and grill covers for each catch basin and surrounding sidewalks that he and Trumbull agreed appear to be good condition.
“They seem to be pretty well intact,” Smith said. “So I think that $6,800 number is probably going to come down a little bit.”
Smith noted that the elimination of these minor aspects of the project, at most, would only reduce the cost of replacement for each catch basin by a few hundred dollars while the city is hoping to scale up the extent of the work completed from a phased approach of 90 units to replace the roughly 800 in need in a single year.
“You can see the dimensions of the problem even if my little more optimistic estimate is correct,” Smith said. “But it’s kind of got to be done….There are big holes in the roads, so I think it’s incumbent upon us to at least try to make a dent in some of these things.”
While the exact cost is unknown, DeSantis noted the project could be bonded at an interest rate of about 1 percent, recommending the city obtain information on the possible project.
“It’s a problem that plagues almost every city in upstate New York,” DeSantis said. “We have this infrastructure that was built in the 19th century and now we’re faced with the fact that these things are crumbling, so that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to at least start the process of fact finding so that we can know our options and be able to intelligently choose an option to serve the public.”
“I certainly support researching it at the very least,” Third Ward Councilwoman Elizabeth Batchelor said.
Additionally, DeSantis requested authorization to issue an RFP for the demolition of a vacant 18,500 square foot former glove factory building located at 70 Division St. in a residential neighborhood.
“It’s a wood frame building, it’s four stories high, the glass is broken, it’s a terrible looking thing,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis noted that Fulton County began the tax foreclosure process to seize the property in 2016 for tax delinquency, but ultimately declined to do so over liability concerns due to the building’s poor condition. The county subsequently filed certificates of withdrawal, cancellation and prospective cancellation to remove the property from the tax rolls without taking ownership.
DeSantis reported that he met with county officials along with Trumbull, City Attorney Anthony Casale and Fire Chief Thomas Groff to discuss options to address the building.
“It’s not just an eyesore,” DeSantis said. “It’s our feeling that it should be condemned, it’s got to come done, because it’s dangerous, so we’re going to try to do that.”
While the Fulton County Demolition Team is unable to take down buildings that are not county owned, DeSantis said the county would be capable of disposing of the building debris if the city hires contractors to complete the demolition.
“There is a record owner of the property, it’s a corporation, so there’s certainly recourse with respect to that. If it’s a corporation that’s defunct and has no assets, a judgment against them would be worthless,” DeSantis added. “As in the last emergency resolution, E.R. one, this is just a process of fact finding just to see what our possibilities are.”
The Common Council signaled their support for both emergency resolutions, unanimously approving the measures authorizing the city to issue RFPs seeking quotes for the infrastructure replacements and building demolition.