OLEAN — City aldermen have given their go-ahead to fix the top facility concern on city property.

The Common Council on Tuesday gave tentative approval for the Department of Public Works to move ahead on getting out contracts to repair major concrete deterioration at the Olean Municipal Building. Bob Ring, director of Public Works, said that he needed a verbal commitment before using engineering resources to draft bid documents for the work if the job is to get done in 2020.

In November, Ring submitted a facilities needs report to the council for review. Among the projects, which Ring estimated at between $2.67 million and $3.39 million if aldermen wish to tackle each project, the top priority was replacing the ramp and concrete on the Times Square entrance to the building.

The building was constructed in 1959, and made ample use of concrete in its construction. While cheap and strong, concrete degrades over time if exposed to water and salt — which has been the case at the doorway for decades.

The aluminum accessibility ramp covers a flat concrete area, and pooling water and salt from ice melting have degraded the concrete substantially, Ring said. A concrete beam underneath the ramp has a long lateral crack in it, while exposed rebar can be seen from the inside of the building. In one section of the basement area, streetlamp illumination and sunlight can be seen through the damage.

The project would likely include replacing the metal ramp with a concrete ramp, repairing the damaged beams and concrete inside, and altering the drainage around the area to better allow water to run into the storm sewer.

Ring said funding the project is not included in the 2019-20 budget, and he does not expect it to be part of the 2020-21 budget now under preliminary review.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a budget item — I think we’re going to have to find the funding,” Ring said, estimating the cost to be between $100,000 and $125,000.

Mayor Bill Aiello said that there is projected to be about $100,000 over the council-mandated fund balance level — 15% of the city’s general fund expenditures — “so that could be an avenue,” he said.

Aldermen agreed that the work needs to be done from maintenance and safety perspectives.

“It’s something we’ve kicked down the road long enough,” said Alderman John Crawford, D-Ward 5.

Alderman Nate Smith, R-Ward 6, said when first proposed several years ago, the question was an aesthetic one.

“It’s become something bigger,” he said, adding he supported getting the job done.

Alderman Linda Witte, D-Ward 1, noted the public safety concern over lack of drainage in the winter and the possibility of concrete failure resulting in a fall.

“We’d be liable if something happened over there,” she said.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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