“That includes what we have already spent on the purchase of the property and then I know we did some elevator maintenance and we patched the roof a little bit,” said Portsmouth Development Director Jennifer Hanlon. “So that includes about $2.2 million that has already been spent. That is the total project cost.”
Hanlon said that is the reason the city will ask for $10.6 million to complete the project.
“That is what we actually need to do the site development, the renovation, and that also includes building facade upgrade, fire protection. I think there was a sprinkler system in there so I don’t know, but it’s something, I am sure, that needs to be updated,” Hanlon said. “And there is the engineering fee and I think they put in about $600,000 as contingency.”
The reason for a contingency amount is the uncertainty of the cost of materials at the time the project will begin.
“Everybody is hoping they will go down, but, you never know about that,” Hanlon said.
Portsmouth City Council met in special session Wednesday evening to vote on authorizing Portsmouth Mayor James Kalb to apply for the funds from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.
What looked to be a routine session turned into an hour-long debate with members of the community and two members of City Council voicing their opposition to that particular ordinance, saying there were many other projects that should have a higher priority.
Kalb, Portsmouth Solicitor Mike Jones and other members of Council attempted to reassure the other members of Council and the public the passage of the city building ordinance was not a priority issue.
Jones said he called for the ordinance to make sure the community had a chance to be involved in it.
In the end, the best Council could get out of the final vote was 4 to 2 in favor.
Hanlon said she had gone to a Web site that is set up by a conference of mayors of cities of 30,000 plus population.
“There are many other cities that have requested $20-30 million to either build a new building or renovate one,” Hanlon said. “So it’s like we tried to say, it’s not like we would be taking $10 million away from a sewer project. But there are other building projects.”
Hanlon summed up the reason for applying for the funding.
“So if we don’t get the $10 million, some other city will.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.