OPPENHEIM — For Oppenheim town government, the future is a stone’s throw away.
Administrative officials in the western Fulton County locale hope to move from a clustered space shared with the Highway Department to a new facility across state Highway 331 before year’s end.
Crews are expected to break ground at some point within the first half of this year. The design — about 90% completed — includes new offices, an upgraded town court and meeting space, and an LED-lit parking lot.
“It’s been a long time coming and it’ll be a great thing for the town,” said Oppenheim Town Supervisor Cynthia Breh.
Newspaper records show the municipal barn has been used as a meeting venue since at least the 1970s. It’s not clear how long administrative staff have occupied the space.
Breh said that the current building is out of code and offers insufficient privacy for residents seeking to discuss sensitive matters with the clerk or assessor. While such problems have long been recognized, budget limitations have led the administration to place the construction of a new town hall on the backburner until recently.
“If I’m in there working because I don’t even have an office, I don’t want to sit there and have to listen to people that come in and explain why their assessment should be lower or whatever,” Breh said. “It puts them on the spot, makes them very uncomfortable and I don’t like that.”
Oppenheim officials as of 2021, served about 1,873 constituents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The community is largely rural, anchored by the economic influence of Little Falls and Dolgeville.
Contractor DMR Civil Engineering plans have the exterior colored brown and green to mirror countryside surroundings.
“We try to maximize the functionality of the building and at the same time we want it to be aesthetically pleasing,” said Romeyn. “We don’t want it to look like the Taj Mahal in a country setting.”
The Town Board selected the group in September under a $29,370 contract based on the Gloversville-based group’s prior work converting a Pizza Hut into a municipal office in Palatine.
DMR Civil Engineering will provide construction inspection services throughout the year. The group is expected to recommend a bidder for construction before June.
“We have all of our questions answered so now it’s just a matter of us pushing through things and getting things completed,” Romeyn said.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil