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Editorials

Lancaster shooting range project off the table; Part II: Residents address board
By Lee Chowaniec
Feb 8, 2012, 09:52
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At the public comment session of the Lancaster Town Board meeting Monday night residents addressed the board on the pre-filed resolution to reject bids for the construction of a firing range at the existing Pavement Road police garage. All favored the board approving the resolution.

The first to speak on the resolution was the writer

“At today’s work session there was a lot of information disseminated. Several police officers, range instructors in particular, came in and gave a synopsis of what it would cost in years should we use an offsite range for training and shooting purposes. I have some comments on the Pavement Road facility.”

“Years ago town board attendees were told that the cost of a town shooting range would be somewhere around $300,000. All of a sudden the estimated cost became $500,000; then $600,000 and today we heard in the work session meeting we were told it was going to be $800,000.”

“People look at the $800,000 and do not realize that over time that number will grow to somewhere around $1.2 million when you factor in the interest costs from bonding the project. And then throw in the architects design cost which is most likely 10% of the project cost.”

“I would like to now ask if this resolution is approved tonight whether his means the project is set aside temporarily, or forever?”

Supervisor Fudoli: “At this time, we are rejecting the current bids.”

Chowaniec: “If you were not to pursue this project, but consider going to the Walden Avenue Wolcott range in Depew, does the architect design firm Foit Albert still get paid for services rendered and if so for what project cost estimate number? Would it be on the recent $800,000, on the $600,000 number, or what?”

Supervisor Fudoli: “We did not take the town firing range project completely off the table. We have the budget set at $10 million. That was set last year. I have spoken with Terry McCracken (Buildings Director) and two bids will go out, one with the range included and one without. Our budget is still the same. That doesn’t change. I can’t answer the question at this time how Foit Albert will get paid, but I will find out and get back to you.”

Chowaniec: “In the work session officer Cronin stated that he crunched some overtime numbers that would be spent should the town consider using an offsite range facility. He stated that if the town didn’t proceed with the building of the Pavement Road range it would cost the town $3.9 million in overtime by using an offsite range. If you look at the number he stated that would amount to an annual average cost to the town of $95,000 per year; lets round it off to $100,000 per year. The town has 50 sworn officers. That would translate to an average expense of $2,000 per sworn officer per year (at an average overtime rate of $50 per hour (off duty and on duty average pay rate). It also amounts to 40 hours a year in training, remedial training and shooting time. A huge outlay, if the numbers presented were credible.”

“Now I believe I also heard stated in the work session by a police officer that the Walden Avenue range would not have a training room available and that the police would only have the opportunity to use the facility as a shooting range.”

“Supervisor Fudoli also stated in the work session that the fee to lease the Walden Avenue building would be nominal…

Police Chief Gill interjected that the fee has not been determined yet.

Chowaniec: “Chief Gill, does that building provide you with everything you need?”

Chief Gill: “Are you referring to the Pavement Road building project?”

Chowaniec:”Yes”.

Chief: “Yes it does.”

Chowaniec: “Does the Walden Avenue range provide everything you need regarding shooting and training?”

Chief Gill: “No.”

Chowaniec: “What is missing?”

Chief Gill: “Classrooms, instructional space, access for remedial space is required.”

Chowaniec: “I have always been of the opinion that the building of the Pavement Road range facility was not fiscally responsible for the taxpayers of Lancaster. After listening to the police presentation today on the long range overtime costs that would be involved with an offsite range, I think it behooves the town board to reject the bids received and to seriously consider the overall picture and what is best for the community. Using the range on Walden Avenue sounds like a great deal, but at the same time if it does not accommodate for everything required by the police, but the Pavement Road project does, it is a matter looking into.”

“But Chief Gill, why are we looking at $2,000 per officer in overtime for training and shooting cots for off and on duty pay, looking at 40 hours of time? Is that a fair assessment of what I am stating?”

Chief Gill: “I am not prepared to answer that at this time.”

Chowaniec: “That is something the board has to also consider; whether the $3.9 million is a verifiable estimate. There has to be a cost-benefit analysis performed. That’s all I am saying.”

Resident Dan Beutler addresses the board

Beutler declared that he wanted to go back to what was stated in the work session. He serves on the Depew planning board and was present when the Walden Avenue Wolcott Guns project came before that board for site plan review.

“There is a training program in place and there are training rooms available at the Wolcott facility, as well as shooting lanes. The presence of training rooms was part of our review.”

“I believe this move (Wolcott Guns) is a good cost-savings move.

Resident Mike Fronczak addresses the board

“I want to go back to what the architect firm (Foit Albert) will be paid if we proceed with the Walden Avenue plan. Will they be paid for the whole $10 million bonded, or is it for building designed, or whatever as the answer given was vague.”

Supervisor Fudoli: “That is something I have to research as I don’t know what was in the original agreement with Foit Albert. I was not here at the time, so all I can do is go back and find out what we are being charged. I assume there would be some charges for the police garage renovation design work before we put it out for bid proposal. I will get back to you.”

Fronczak: “Okay. Now in the past we heard all kinds of numbers for the shooting range cost. We last heard it was $600,000 and tonight we are hearing $800,000. And we hearing of a $350,000 state grant that was supposed to be used to offset the costs of the project. In fact, we were told that the grant money was still available a few months ago by the Foit Albert project manager and would be used to offset the cost associated with the renovation of the police garage into a shooting range. Is that grant still available or is it null and void?”

Supervisor Fudoli: “It was set to expire on March 31, 2012. In order to have that grant money the building would have had to be up by March 31 of this year. So that is why we are not proceeding with this project now.”

Fronczak: “When were the bids opened for review? Was there a specific date?

Supervisor Fudoli was unaware of the date and asked others to answer. Fronczak was informed that the date the bids were opened for review was November 30, 2011.*

Fronczak: “So now it’s February and we are now just acting on this information.”

Supervisor Fudoli: “I guess I don’t understand the point you are trying to make.”

Fronczak: “I was under the impression from what I had been hearing at these meetings the past few months that everything was in place to move this project along. Now we hear differently.”

*Mr. Fronczak would have known that date had the agenda been posted on the town’s website along with the language of the resolutions as has been requested by several residents in the past and more recently at the last several meetings.

NEXT: Part III: Closing comments at the open public comment session




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