Thursday, January 8, 2015

Update on the Police and Court Building

Speaking with the Register-Star’s John Mason about his “many accomplishments to take pride in, as well as some frustration, and some promising avenues of progress for the future,” Mayor William Hallenbeck cited the police and court building as one of his accomplishments for 2014:
"The Police and Court building was a huge undertaking in 2014, with organizing and providing many months of planning and selecting a construction manager and architect," Hallenbeck said. Although he has recently criticized the process by which a design was selected, and said he wants to open it up to a public hearing, he said he looks forward to completing the project in 2015.
On Tuesday, in the Register-Star article that reported the mayor's dissatisfaction with the design for the building and his discontent about being, as he perceived it, "left out of the loop," it was announced that a meeting had been scheduled, "to include Hallenbeck, [mayor's aide Eugene] Shetsky, Alderman Nick Haddad, D-1st Ward, who has been the Common Council's point-man on the project, Police Chief Edward Moore and Police Commissioner Gary Graziano, a representative from the Office of Court Administration, and Project Manager Joe Rapp, to remedy the perceived lack of communication." That meeting took place earlier today.

According to Gossips sources, the mayor used the meeting as an opportunity to take Haddad to task for allegedly leaving the mayor's office out of the planning process, accusing Haddad of making unilateral decisions and approving change orders that might cost the City more money. The mayor's consternation seems to have been a matter of misunderstanding.

A "task plan schedule" had been adopted in September, at a meeting that included both the mayor and the mayor's aide. At that meeting, the design for the exterior proposed by architect Richard Franklin was presented, and the mayor and the mayor's aide both signed off on it. Since September, the focus has been on the interior of the building, which given the nature of its function is far more critical than the exterior. Franklin and his team have been working exclusively with the Hudson Police Department and the Office of Court Administration--the stakeholders--to ensure that the interior design, which includes such non-cosmetic things as electrical systems and other mechanicals, meets their very stringent requirements and specifications. No one, reasonably, was involved in those meetings except the architects and the stakeholders.

During today's meeting, the process was reviewed and explained by Joe Rapp, the construction manager, and Carl Whitbeck, the City attorney. By the end of the meeting, the mayor's concerns had been assuaged, and he was persuaded that neither he nor his aide had ever been "out of the loop" and the design for the exterior had not been "selected" but is still evolving. The project, it seems, is "back on track."

Because the building, although a noncontributing structure, is situated in a locally designated historic district, the design for the exterior will go before the Historic Preservation Commission for a recommendation. (As a City project, it does not require a certificate of appropriateness.) It is not clear when this will happen. The HPC meets tomorrow morning, and the police and court building is not on the agenda.

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