NORTH ADAMS — Before the city thinks about a new public safety building, it must first fix the one it has.
On Tuesday, the City Council approved a $351,000 borrowing order to fund the replacement of the roof at the public safety building on American Legion Drive.
The council unanimously gave the second of two required approvals to the borrowing request, as well as the green light to borrow $146,300 for upgrades to the city's information technology systems. The public safety building, which houses the city's police and fire departments, has given way to leak after leak — several of which have gone unfixed for years.
During a meeting of the council's public safety committee Monday, councilors toured the aging facility.
"It's very clear that this needs to be done and it needs to be done [as soon as possible]," said Councilor Benjamin Lamb, adding that a 40-foot-by-40-foot tarp is protecting a large section of the building.
In advocating this month for the new roof, Police Director Michael Cozzaglio and Fire Director Stephen Meranti described regular drips near expensive equipment and leaks above the beds of first responders.
Mayor Thomas Bernard, who introduced the proposal, has described the repairs as "a matter of basic respect for our first responders."
The roof project has three pieces — a $291,342 main section that encompasses the areas where employees work, and two alternates of $33,863 and $25,741 for repairs to portions of the roof that cover auxiliary parts of the building.
The new roof is not intended as an alternative to finding a long-term solution to the public safety building's woes.
Bernard has pledged to strategize on how to move forward with either a full renovation of the current public safety building or a replacement.
The borrowing for information technology upgrades would fund upgrades to the city's data center, which previously was updated in 2011 and provides support for a variety of municipal functions, like hosting financial software and email.
Unlike the borrowing for the public safety roof, the information technology upgrades would not directly impact taxpayers. Instead, the annual debt payments would be withdrawn from the city's municipal technology fund, which is replenished every year by contractually obligated payments from Charter Spectrum.
The project includes $90,000 for data center upgrades and $43,000 for a new phone system.
Adam Shanks can be reached at email@example.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.