RIPLEY - Ripley Town Supervisor Doug Bowen attempted Thursday, April 11 to clear up misperceptions about why town officials have been exploring possible new locations for the town offices.
"There has been a false perception that we only started thinking about moving the town offices because of the school tuitioning its students next year," Bowen said. "The need for new town offices is nothing new. It's been going on for years."
Bowen explained the current building was built in 1978, but in 1998 an inspection revealed there were handicap accessibility and structural issues. In February of 2000, the town applied for a $62,000 grant to correct these problems, but failed to receive it. After that, several funding sources were sought out with no success, he said.
From August 2002 through August 2004, three different bids were solicited to repair the building, but all of them came in well over budget, Bowen said.
"After that time, we continued looking for funding, but also started looking at other options," Bowen said.
According to Bowen, the building continues to develop problems, including a separating wall, various electrical issues, ceiling tiles falling and a window that began leaking recently.
"We cannot continue with the status quo," he said. "We have to take some action."
Bowen said the town is considering four options. With Ripley Central School tuitioning students in grades seven through 12 next year, there is a possibility of moving the offices there. Officials from the town have taken two tours of the building to determine the feasibility of this.
Another option would be to move into an existing building on Main Street and renovate it. The third option would be to build a new building, and the fourth would be to renovate the existing structure.
The architectural firm of Clark Patterson Lee out of Rochester, N.Y., is currently conducting a cost analysis of each option for the town for the purpose of seeking grant funding, Bowen said.
In other business, the board unanimously voted to issue bonds to pay for a new highway plow truck. The 15-year bonds will be issued to cover a maximum of $200,000. The actual cost of the truck is $183,000 and was included in the budget.
The board also agreed to solicit bids for a new water and sewer backhoe. The current backhoe is 20 years old and has developed a bad front axle.
"We are moving forward with our water and sever expansion project, and we're trying to do it in-house," Bowen said. "We need proper equipment for that."
The board passed a local law allowing a partial exemption from property taxes for capital improvements to residential homes.
Bruce Perdue, representing the South Ripley Cemetery Association, presented the needs of that group to the board. Unless the association is able to acquire new members, it will disband and the responsibility of caring for the cemetery will revert to the town, he said.
"I've been on the board for 29 years," Perdue said. "As people get older, they can't maintain it (the cemetery), and we don't have the young people coming on board."
Perdue said the association is in need of three trustees, a sexton and a president.
"We've tried to keep our costs down," he said. "Most things are being voluntarily maintained."
The next South Ripley Cemetery Association meeting will be on Tuesday, May 14 at Meeder's Restaurant at 5 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend.