NEWFANE -- In March, a volunteer committee was given six months to come up with a plan to address long-standing maintenance issues at the town office.
But that committee last week brought a more-pressing issue to light: A detailed look at a crawl space underneath the building showed broken floor beams, which led to structural concerns.
Newfane Selectboard now has authorized the office committee to find a contractor to handle an emergency repair job.
"Let's go ahead and do it before something really terrible happens," Selectboard Chairman Jon Mack said.
Voters at Town Meeting authorized allocating $25,000 for repairs at the town office off Route 30 in Newfane Village. With cash that had been previously set aside, that will bring the total available for office projects to $40,000 when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
But a report last year estimated that fixing all of the building's problems could cost $175,000. In addition to recommending new windows, paint and flooring along with electrical and heating/air conditioning upgrades, the document also detailed issues in the crawl space, where moisture and mold have been a problem.
The town office committee has focused on that area as well. Committee member Mike Granger, a local real-estate agent, said he recently crawled through the space for about two hours.
He emerged with photos showing three compromised floor joists.
"Clearly, they're broken," Granger said. "And there's a beam that's breached as well."
One problem area is located below a large safe in the room where the Newfane Selectboard meets. That safe simply is too heavy for the floor, Granger said.
"I think there's probably a place in here that, once it's shored up, will support that," Granger said. "But right now, I'm convinced that's what's breaking (the joists)."
Granger said installation of additional floor supports should be considered an emergency project.
"Don't wait around for the committee to come up with recommendations," he told the Selectboard, adding that "I would immediately get somebody in there."
Because the matter is classified as an emergency, the Selectboard does not have to adhere to the normal competitive-bidding process. In fact, the board delegated the task of finding a contractor to the office committee, citing the work committee members already have done.
"I feel like your committee is getting an extremely good understanding of these things," Mack said.
Mack said the project will be covered by money that's already been allocated for the town office.
And Granger said he does not think shoring up the floor will be expensive or time consuming. Getting emergency repairs done quickly "will buy the committee time to interview people and talk to engineers and see just what the scope of this is," he said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.