H’town to borrow $330k for retaining wall

SARANAC LAKE – The town of Harrietstown will borrow up to $330,000 to replace a retaining wall behind its town hall that was damaged in the spring 2011 flood.

The town board agreed Thursday night to have its budget officer, Mike Kilroy, begin applying for a bond anticipation note (BAN) for the project. Town officials hope some or all of the costs will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Before the town board agreed to move forward, Councilman Jim Murnane asked why it wouldn’t also borrow money, at the same time, for a long list of proposed renovations and upgrades to the town hall, the cost of which have been estimated at nearly $700,000.

“Why aren’t we doing it all at once?” Murnane asked.

“We need this so we can go out and get bids,” responded Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua. “The rest of the stuff we aren’t ready to do yet. And we don’t know what the true cost is going to be for anything else. We’re going to try and get those costs between now and December.”

Councilman Barry DeFuria said he was told the town has to have “money in the bank” before the retaining wall project can get underway.

“I understand that, and I’m happy to move forward with the retaining wall. I don’t wish to hold that up,” Murnane said. “I just don’t want to increase what we’re going to pay for interest by (borrowing for the town hall project) separately. Maybe we’re not; I don’t know.”

DeFuria said bond counsel fees and other related costs could be more if the town issues two BANs, “but do you want to borrow a million dollars when you don’t even know when you’re going to do it and be paying interest on it? I don’t want to do that. I’d rather do it as we go along.”

Bevilacqua said it would be better to pursue financing and seek bids for the town hall renovations in December or January, as the town might get better prices from contractors when they’re less busy.

“You’ve satisfied my curiosity,” said Murnane, who voted with the rest of the board to move forward with the BAN.

Town officials hope the retaining wall project can begin during the current construction season and be done by the fall. The project has already been approved by the state Adirondack Park Agency and a host of other state and federal agencies.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.