Williamstown fire hall plan endorsed; council skeptical on $1M Airport Road public works building

South Glengarry Coun. Lyle Warden tells fellow councillors he has 'grave concerns' about moving ahead with a nearly $1 million public works building to be built on Airport Road during a council meeting, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. Warden wants the township to address its procurement policy first before approving the work in order to prevent a cost overrun like the salt dome, which ended up being $500,000 over budget. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – South Glengarry will go ahead with more detailed pricing and design for a relocated Williamstown fire hall in the public works building on William Street.

But council wasn’t ready to endorse a plan to build a nearly $1 million public works building on Airport Road near its winter materials facility.

A couple on council – Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost and Coun. Lyle Warden – were skeptical of the cost estimates of $291,748 to retrofit the garage into a fire hall and $929,040 for a new public works building.

Prevost, a real estate agent, said it would be “impossible to build” a public works garage at $900,000 and that “$290,000 goes nowhere” when it comes to retrofitting a building.

The deputy mayor also believes a public works garage on Airport Road is the “wrong place” and that the municipality should consolidate its public works operations to a central location in the township – somewhere on County Road 34 between Lancaster and Brown House Corner (intersection of County Road 18 and County Road 34).

Coun. Warden said he had “grave concerns” with the cost estimates provided by the consultant and also felt the township shouldn’t move forward until a review of its procurement procedure policy was complete – possibly sometime next month.

Warden is concerned South Glengarry might get burned again after a contract to build a salt dome on Airport Road came in $500,000 over budget. “We had a gun to our head” in approving that work, Warden said.

Infrastructure GM Ewen MacDonald tried to reassure Warden the cost estimates were accurate, saying the salt dome tender was “my mistake” when the proposal omitted a foundation for the building.

Mayor Ian McLeod also felt there was “something askew” with the numbers. But, after a 38 minute discussion, he was able to convince council to agree with the fire hall plan in principle without committing any dollars,

Council will be getting a more detailed cost estimate and design for retrofitting the William Street public works building for the future Williamstown fire hall.

A new public works building will be addressed separately at a later date where council will explore cost options and potential locations other than Airport Road.