‘Moving day’ into new Potsdam Town Hall expected later this week
Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 4:46 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM – If the schedule holds, the Town of Potsdam offices will be moving into the new town hall at 18 Elm St. Thursday and Friday.

“We’ll still be operating, collecting taxes, et cetera, during the move,” either in the new building or at their temporary quarters up the street at 12 Elm St., said town clerk Cindy Goliber.

There is lots of space for offices and files, a community kitchen and a lunchroom, a large boardroom that can accommodate other community functions and which can be divided with a sliding wall.

And Goliber says, “there is a parking lot that actually has parking.”

The work has been done by several contractors, led by general contractor Harvey Excavation and Construction of Norfolk.

Thus ends an odyssey that began in 2007 when the town decided that the former bank building at 35 Market St. that housed their offices was inadequate but would be too expensive refurbish.

The building was deficient in many ways, Supervisor Marie Regan said at the time, pointing to the crumbling back wall, the leaking roof, and the lack of an elevator to move people who needed it to the upstairs courtroom.

The list of places they considered and rejected, or considered and were shut out of, was long. The town looked into the industrial complex on Rt. 11B, the Verizon building on Market Street, what was the Kriff’s building at 46 Market St., the former Newman Center on Main Street, Clarkson’s former Liberal Arts Building on Pierrepont Avenue at the old downtown campus, at a piece of land at the corner of Market and Garden Streets. The property and buildings at the former St. Mary’s School on Lawrence Avenue was more than they needed. And there was considerable wrangling with the village Board of Trustees over siting the building.

They actually bought some land on Lawrence Avenue, next to A.A. Kingston Middle School inside the village, but they couldn’t convince the village planning board to recommend a zoning change. But claiming “municipal sovereignty,” they elected to ignore the zoning ruling and build on that lot.

The town wanted to spend $3.2 million on the new building, but the proposal came just as new higher property assessments were announced, and a referendum was forced on the town. The plan was defeated.

But the inadequacy of the Market Street building was apparent, and the town eventually worked out a plan to build anew at 18 Elm St., while wok on the historic bank building proceeded, largely with grant funding. That building will house the Town Court.