Though the planned expansion of the David R. Meager Community Center in Malta will be energy efficient and eco-friendly, the Town of Malta will not pursue green building certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. In a split decision Thursday, May 1, the Town Council voted to forgo the process.
The reasoning behind the decision was financial. The LEED certification process would cost the town approximately $157,000, and while they would recoup some of that amount through rebates and incentives, the price would still total $99,000.
Councilman Peter Klotz cast the only vote for certification.
I feel that the cost is justified, said Klotz. `It would improve the town’s image as a green community.`
The LEED program is operated by the U.S. Green Building Council and recognizes structures that excel in areas such as water efficiency, energy performance, the use of recycled or eco-friendly building materials and pollution control. Several proposed developments in the Malta area ` including the AMD microchip fabrication facility ` have pledged to meet LEED standards.
The lack of LEED certification doesn’t bother parks and recreation director Audrey Ball, however.
`You could argue it both ways all day long,` said Ball in a phone interview. `We’re hoping to be a green community but developers don’t have the same tight budgets municipalities have.`
Ball stressed that the facility will still meet all requirements of the LEED program even without the actual certification.
`The LEED certification will not change the quality of the building,` she said.
As planned, the expansion will make efforts to conserve energy while being visually appealing. Boston-based architect Bargmann Hendrie and Archetype Inc. plans to use cedar throughout the structure, and the landscaping will be handled by Saratoga Associates, which is promising plenty of benches and floral plots outside the center. The community center will also make use of a rain garden, which filters storm runoff naturally in addition to providing attractive plantings.
Ball said she still plans to pursue the less costly NYSERDA New Construction Program, which is similar to LEED. That should only cost $6,200, and could bring back funds in the area of $30,000 to the town.
No matter what agency recognizes the structure, it has already received approval from the most vital entity: Malta’s Town Council. Ball said that opening bids will be taken June 6, and construction could start as soon as July.
Ball hopes for a September 2009 grand opening.
The $6 million addition has already traversed a winding road. In December, the project was the subject of a public referendum after residents concerned about the cost of the project petitioned for a vote.
The highlights of the addition will be a gymnasium featuring a full-size basketball court as well as a Round Lake Library branch, an addition Ball says will be welcomed.
`The existing library is in a historic home and not very accessible,` said Ball. The library branch in the community center is expected to be about 5,300-square-feet, and will feature an automatic check in/check out kiosk for patrons. A media room is also planned in addition to the library.
The community center will still be open during construction, though as construction wraps up next year, there will likely be a transition period. Ball, for one, is excited at the opportunity a green project like the community center expansion presents for change.
`To me, it’s important,` said Ball. `We need to start a trend in this country to save the environment.` “