SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Asbestos removal has started inside City Hall, one of the first steps in restoring the historic building which has been closed since a lightning-caused fire and flood last August.
Aktor Corp. of Albany is doing the work under a $322,300 contract approved by the City Council earlier this month. The asbestos, found in pipe coverings and joints, dry wall, floor tiles and other areas, must be removed for safety reasons before the $11.2 million full restoration of the building can get underway.
"The abatement will allow for a healthier, safer environment for all and reduce the cost of future projects inside City Hall," city Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said earlier at a council meeting this month.
The large four-story brick building overlooking the corner of Broadway and Lake Avenue in the heart of downtown was damaged the night of Aug. 17, when a lightning strike started a fire on the third floor. While the fire wasn't large, the lightning strike damaged roof drainage, and that allowed rainwater to flood the first, second and third floors, resulting in extensive water damage inside the building.
The basement-level Police Department remains in business where it is, but most city offices have been moved temporarily to the city Recreation Center on Vanderbilt Avenue.
In November, the City Council unanimously approved plans to spend $11.2 million -- partially covered by insurance -- to do what will be the most extensive interior upgrades to the 150-year-old buildings' plumbing, heating and electrical systems since the 1930s. Having the building vacant has created an opportunity not otherwise available, Scirocco said at the time.
Insurance is expected to cover only $104,000 of the $322,300 being spent on asbestos removal and some selective demolition. Asbestos, in an airborne state, is linked to lung disease and cancer, and will be removed from the entire building. Work will be scheduled around the operational needs of the Police Department.
The council has also hired Buffalo-area based Trophy Point Construction Services to develop construction cost estimates that can be used in future insurance negotiations, at a cost of $21,536.
The abestos work is scheduled to be done by the second week in March.
Meanwhile, architect/engineering consultants Clark Patterson Lee of Albany are close to completing concept plans for the interior renovations, to be followed by a detailed construction design and bid specifications. City public works officials, who are overseeing the day-to-day work, anticipate the project being ready to go to bid in April, with work expected to be completed in late 2019.
"I'm happy with the work that is currently being done, and we're on schedule," Scirocco said. "DPW will be working diligently to keep this project moving forward on time."