Meanwhile, Gossips readers have raised some questions about the fence that has been erected along the sidewalk in front of the building.
One objection to the fence is that the message it sends seems to negate all efforts at community policing. It puts a barrier between law enforcement and the judicial system, as if the public servants tasked with upholding the law and maintaining order need to be closed off and protected from the people they serve.
Another objection to the fence is that there is no break in it and no way for pedestrians to approach the building except by using the driveways at either end of the fence, which people on foot will have share with people in cars.
The architect's rendering of the building (below) shows a fence, but one that is really more like a railing than a barrier and has a pedestrian entrance.
Gossips contacted Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton and Chief Moore to find out how we ended up with this fence. Here's what was learned.
No plans for the site were included in the capital budget. It will be remembered that paving and landscaping were bid out as "alternative costs," and since it turned out that these costs would have brought the total price of the project over the amount approved by the Common Council, paving and landscaping were eliminated from the project. A new fence and pedestrian walkway were presumably part of the "alternative costs." There had been an old split rail fence and some uneven railroad tie steps leading down from the sidewalk, but the plan was simply to remove them.
Once the old split rail fence was gone, though, there was concern about the steepness of the slope from the sidewalk to the "sunken" parking lot, and it was decided that a new fence was needed. The fence there now was chosen because it is similar to the the fence across the street, enclosing the patio at the Iron Horse Cigar Depot.
The mayor had this to say about the fence: "Obviously, this is not ideal, and I think everyone involved in the construction phase of the project agrees that something more aesthetically pleasing and consistent with the building's design would be preferable. Once the project is completed and we evaluate what, if any, funds are remaining, we hope to revisit [the fence] as well as the other issues (e.g. parking lot and pedestrian access from the street)."
So, how likely is it there will be money left over for such niceties as landscaping and repaving? When the bids were opened back in January 2016, Gossips calculated that the lowest bids totaled $2,824,100--$228,400 less that what the Common Council had approved for the project. In July 2016, when the Council approved spending $49,000 to replace the roof on the building, city treasurer Heather Campbell said that the contingency in the budget--the difference between the amount approved and the amount being spent--was $200,550. All the change orders, including the roof, amounted to $151,545, so at that point there was potentially $49,005 that could be spent on landscaping and site enhancement. It is not known how much of that possible $49,005 was spent for the fence that's there now. To give a sense of what's needed to landscape the site properly, the bids for "alternative costs" ranged from $247,000 to $438,000.
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