Red Hook’s Town Board has passed a bond resolution authorizing the town to borrow up to $100,000 to cover the cost of demolishing the old highway department garage.
At the board’s July 9 meeting, Supervisor Sue Crane explained that the five-year bond was necessary because the demolition project has incurred unanticipated expenses. “Nevertheless, we believe that we need to move ahead [with this demolition] so that this campus will be in good shape and traffic out here will be under control and parking will be increased and the overall benefits that we sought in moving the highway garage to the rear will be achieved,” Crane said.
The 13,064 sq. ft. garage, housed in a Quonset-style building behind the Town Hall parking lot on Route 9, was used as the headquarters for the highway department since the 1940s until the construction of the new garage last year.
The board had planned to have the garage taken down and sold for scrap metal, but because asbestos was discovered in the paint on the building, the material cannot be sold for scrap and has to be sent to an appropriate landfill. Crane said the lack of income from the sale of the scrap metal is driving the project’s expenses higher, as is the detailed mitigation now required.
Crane also announced that in the process of investigating the garage, the town engineer had discovered a buried tank. “[It] was buried, we believe, before the town owned the entire property, though we’re not sure,” she said.
The tank had about a foot of sand in it, according to Councilman Harry Colgan, who said that at one time the common practice was to fill unused tanks with sand.
Highway Superintendent Theresa Burke told The Observer that the town is still waiting to hear the results of tests on liquid that was found in the tank, believed to be old diesel fuel or water with traces of diesel fuel. “Whatever it was, it was pumped out according to safe disposal methods by a waste disposal company,” she said.
The town engineer was called in to oversee the entire process. “We weren’t taking any chances,” Colgan told The Observer.
Crane said that initial reports suggest there has not been any spill from the tank and that samples will be taken after the tank is removed to confirm that no contamination has occurred in the area.
Crane told the board that the two bids received for the work came in at approximately $70,000 for the demolition of the garage and $8,000 for the tank removal. The board then approved the bond with a five-year term, not to exceed $100,000.
Crane thanked the town engineering firm, Crawford and Associates, for their work on the project. “They’ve been very, very careful and responsible and have led us every inch of the way through the process so we’re not taking any chances as we take care of these issues,” she said.
“It’s a must-do, there isn’t really another option. And we have to do it in an environmentally sound way, which is another must-do. Not a lot of choices here,” Colgan added.