Thursday, October 4, 2012

Questions Raised at Committee Meeting

At the Common Council Youth & Aging Committee meeting last night, there were more questions raised than answers provided. Youth Department director Mary Hunter was not in attendance; neither was Common Council president Don Moore, who is a member of the committee. Only program director George Bednar has present to field questions from the public and the press.

The first question was how and why $2,504 was diverted from the Youth Programs account to pay Crawford & Associates for a structural study of the Youth Center building. The issue was raised by Laura Lapachin, who wanted to know why the karate program at the Youth Center, which her son participated in, had been cut and how the program could be reinstated. Bednar explained that there was no funding left for some programs, karate being one of them, because $2,504 had been taken out of the Youth account to pay for the structural consultants. Committee chair Wanda Pertilla was disturbed by the news, saying that, as chair of the Youth & Aging Committee. she was insulted that this was done without her knowledge. Register-Star reporter Tom Casey, however, pointed out that the Common Council, on July 17, 2012, had unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city treasurer to transfer $2,504 from A. 7510.0490 Youth Programs to A. 7510.0430 Youth Center Structural Repair Project. (Pertilla later told Casey that she did remember voting on the resolution: "Parents displeased by cuts to youth program funding.") Commenting by email, Moore, who is out of the country, said, "If payment of that fee came out of current year Youth Department funding, reducing the program offerings, that should not have happened and can be corrected."

Questions were also asked about the senior center. Bednar announced that construction was scheduled to begin on October 25. When asked, however, about bids on the project he said they had not been received but were "due any day now," and when asked if decisions had been made about the materials that would be used he indicated that he had no information and was not certain who would. 

When presenting the design to the Historic Preservation Commission in April, Jane Smith, the architect for the senior center, indicated that the choice of materials would be an important factor in the success of the design and acknowledged that materials are typically seen as a way to reduce costs when trying to keep a project within budget. It seems the design for the senior center has not yet gone though a step called "value engineering," during which it is determined if the building as designed can be built for the amount of money budgeted. Smith told the HPC that she wanted to use cedar clapboard, which would be allowed to weather naturally, and metal with a dark bronze patina. She also mentioned the importance of the lattice on the clerestory windows, which filtered the light in the interior and enhanced the appearance of the exterior. She indicated, however, that in the final design the clapboard may not be cedar, the metal may be different, the lattice may be eliminated, an there may be fewer clerestory windows.

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