GENEVA — A long-awaited project to make City Hall fully accessible is getting underway.
The city is adding an elevator to the rear (south side) of City Hall, along with other renovations in a $1.5 million project.
It’s a somewhat scaled-back plan that at one time called for renovations of the second-floor meeting room to allow City Council and other public bodies to move back to City Hall for meetings. They are currently held at the city’s Public Safety Building on Exchange Street.
“City Hall positively contributes to the historic fabric of downtown,” said Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers in a prepared statement. “We take pride in being able to make necessary upgrades to the aging facility and able to fully accommodate residents and visitors of all mobilities.”
City Public Works Director Mark Perry said the new elevator will be an addition to the rear of City Hall, along with a stair tower. There are some minor interior renovations as well, he said, including the addition of two Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms on the second floor.
Massa Construction, the general contractor, has fenced a section of the parking lot behind City Hall in preparation for the project.
“Some work is starting on July 2, but probably nothing substantial until the following week,” said Perry on Friday.
Blowers anticipates the project will be finished in early 2020.
The city has not yet provided a copy of project bids that the Finger Lakes Times requested Wednesday under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) — they have five business days to respond — but it did provide the companies that won bids for the four components of the project.
Besides Massa, the other winning bidders were Lovett Mechanical Contractors, Inc. of Syracuse for plumbing; HMI Mechanical Systems, Inc. of Waterloo for HVAC; and Concord Electric Corp. of Rochester for the electrical work.
“The bids came in right around estimated budget, but the city also received a $300,000 elevator grant that will help offset a nice portion of costs,” said Blowers.
The city’s current elevator cannot accommodate those in wheelchairs who need to do business with City Hall employees on the second and third floors of the building. Because of this, staff must come down to meet with them on the first floor.
“We have had lots of maintenance issues with it,” Blowers noted. “The advantages to residents and staff will be ease of access to the second and third floors for everyone.”
Blowers said some city staff will need to be temporarily relocated during construction, but that the impact is “very minimal.”
The project was scaled back by Council when bids came in late 2016 about $600,000 to $700,000 above estimates of $1.5 million. With additional debt coming as part of the city’s share of several Downtown Revitalization Initiative-funded road and streetscape improvements, Council opted to retain the most important component of the renovation: a new elevator.
Council meetings were moved to the city’s Public Safety Building about 20 years ago because of accessibility issues. The general feeling, though, was that at some point the meetings would move back to City Hall, home base for Geneva’s government.
Massa Construction was the low bidder on the original project. However, when the project was scaled back, the city had to re-advertise for bids.