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Board member blasts pace of town hall fixes

Eugene Cook is a Republican Huntington Town councilman.

Eugene Cook is a Republican Huntington Town councilman. (Sept. 30, 2009) Credit: Pablo Corradi

Huntington Town board member Gene Cook says he is concerned that town hall is decaying from the outside in and that town officials are dragging their feet on repairs.

Cook, who has been in the concrete and construction business for more than 30 years, recently pointed out interior water damage on the east side of the building on Main Street in Huntington.

Cook says he was told by town General Services Director Thom Boccard that the damage is being caused by moisture getting in through the masonry walls, and the outside of the building needs to be waterproofed. Cook says he has been told the repair must be put out to bid and could cost as much as $750,000.

But "We could have our people in the General Services Department do the work for $25,000 or less," Cook said.

He said the waterproofing material could be purchased through state contracts with vendors and an aerial lift and scaffolding could be rented through a state contract for less than $10,000.

Town officials did not make Boccard available for comment, but Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said there is a protocol for repairs to the building because of local, state and federal safety laws and environmental standards. In addition, he said general services employees are not trained according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards to do that type of work.

Petrone said town officials know the building needs to be waterproofed. He said that in 2006 the east side of the building was treated at a cost of $2.64 per square foot, and the final bill was $19,866. Town officials have informal information that the current going rate is $5 to $6 a square foot, he said.

Petrone said a committee of the deputy supervisor, comptroller and director of engineering services reviews all capital projects and sets the priorities on which are done each year.

"This project isn't even No. 2 on the list," Petrone said.

Cook said he was disappointed to hear the explanations offered by Petrone and surprised to learn that town general services employees are not trained in this type of work.

"These are common-sense measures that OSHA puts out, and our guys should be trained constantly for this," Cook said.

He blamed the lack of training on the "unfortunate mismanagement" of Boccard.

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