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Price tag hurts hopes for Niskayuna Grange Hall rehab

Thursday, November 15, 2012
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— The next step in rehabilitating the historic Grange Hall in Niskayuna is a big one, officials learned recently, a step that may be too big to take for the organization hoping to one day move into the building.

The town recently received bids for work to rehab the old Grange Hall on Rosendale Road, hoping to find a use for about $20,000 held by the group ECOS: The Environmental Clearinghouse.

ECOS is hoping to one day move into the hall, which sits at the entrance of the Lisha Kill Preserve. The problem has been getting it into shape for it to be able to move in.

ECOS has already paid for an archaeological survey and engineering work.

The next step is shoring up the building’s foundation and taking off a deteriorating rear portion, according to town Highway Superintendent Frank Gavin, who is acting as the project supervisor.

According to the bids, that work alone would be between $125,000 and $150,000. Funding is to come from ECOS, through fund raising or grants.

Town board member Denise Murphy McGraw noted that the money on hand seems like a lot, but compared to what the foundation and other work will cost, isn’t much.

“I do think the logical step is for us to get together and figure out what projects we can do with that $15,000 to $20,000 and then move forward,” McGraw said.

At ECOS, executive director Patrick Clear expressed disappointment at the bid results.

The project has been talked about for several years now, since ECOS moved from the now-demolished Aqueduct House in 2004. It has been housed in the Niskayuna Community Center since.

The Grange Hall was a one-room schoolhouse as early as the 1860s and served that purpose until 1915, when it closed. By 1935, it became the hall for the farmers’ fraternal organization. Niskayuna purchased the property in 1989.

An earlier round of bids to rehab the property, in 2007, provided a similar sticker shock for the overall project.

In the latest round of bids, officials hoped to be able to break off portions to complete with the money on hand.

“It’s a little disappointing,” Clear said Wednesday. “We were hoping for a much lower number on the bids.”

Now they have to figure out what they’re going to do next.

“It would be a good site,” he said, “we’re anxious to get in there. ... It’s a matter of getting it done and it always comes down to money.”

 
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