Saratoga City rec center moves ahead

The indoor recreation center the city is building off Weibel Avenue should have no adverse impact on the surrounding environment, said the Saratoga City Council.

The council issued a negative declaration on the State Environmental Quality Review Act required for the center at its Tuesday, July 3, meeting. The negative declaration was passed unanimously among the five council members. SEQRA determinations are usually issued by the city planning board, but, in this case, it was issued by the council because they are the lead agency on this project.

The completed study did determine a traffic light would be needed at the intersection of Weibel and the access road to the center, which is near the Police Benevolent Association shooting range.

Funding for the light, as well as sidewalk improvements, could be set aside in the 2008 capital budget, Mayor Valerie Keehn said.

Planning board chairman Lew Benton said the city was thorough in its traffic and archaeological studies.

The city council certainly went beyond minimal requirements here, he said.

This year's city budget includes $4.33 million to cover the remaining expenses associated with the city's new recreational facility. The recreation facility has a projected cost of $6.5 million and ongoing operational costs that would start at $300,000 per year, and go up annually as salaries and programs increase.

Council members also discussed whether the recreation center would be constructed through a "design-build" process, in which bids would include both the design and construction phases of the project, or a "design-bid-build" process in which the design and construction processes would be separate.

Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue has been a proponent of "design-build," saying the process would cost the city " and its taxpayers " a considerable amount of money.

The council has yet to determine what process it will look for in the request for proposals.

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