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SeaComm breaks ground for Stearns Street expansion

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MASSENA - Nearly a month after they received approval from the village’s Planning Board, SeaComm Federal Credit Union officials broke ground Wednesday afternoon to start the first phase of the expansion of their Stearns Street headquarters.

SeaComm President and CEO Scott A. Wilson said phase one, which will take about 30 days and will not impact regular operations at the location, will be the installation of the new employee parking area on the west end of the lot, from SeaComm’s existing garage to the property lie.

The area will be graded for new and existing parking lots to connect; additional storm structures and piping will be installed along with new light poles; and asphalt pavement and line striping will be installed during the first phase.

“We needed parking for the staff,” Mr. Wilson said.

The initial phase of work that began this week will provide a site where construction materials can be staged, as well as needed employee parking during the other phases of construction.

“Phase one doesn’t really impact members today,” he said.

The work that will most impact customers will start with phase two, which will involve a shifting of some traffic patterns and the closing of some drive-thru lanes.

“They (members) will come in front of the building and loop around,” Mr. Wilson said.

Phase three will involve the closing of drive-thru lanes and the tearing down of the back of the building in preparation for the construction of the new two-story facility in that location. Portable drive-thru pods will be used to continue servicing members who want to use the drive-thru service. Mr. Wilson said members will still have access to all of their services, including safety deposit boxes.

It’s necessary to tear down and build up, he said, because the original 1978 construction of that portion of the building wasn’t designed to add a second story.

“From a cost perspective, it will not cost any more to tear it down and rebuild it,” he said.

As they begin phase one, Mr. Wilson said they want to ensure customers are aware of what changes will be taking place so they can plan accordingly.

“We want to make sure we’re going to have tons of communication,” he said.

Among their efforts is a handout distributed by tellers to customers, explaining what will be taking place during each phase. The phase one handout is currently being distributed to customers.

“That’ll happen in every phase,” Mr. Wilson said. “I feel communication to our members is extremely critical. We’ll have more information than they probably want. We want them to know what’s going on.”

The credit union’s website, www.seacomm.org, also links to a page that details the work that will be taking place.

“They can clock on a highlighted space and it will pop up and tell them what’s going on,” he said.

They soon plan to have a live webcam installed on the site so visitors can view the progress in real time, and the credit union is also using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to keep members apprised of the progress on the project.

Those who want to avoid the Stearns Street location during construction can still take advantage of the 79 Main St., Massena, branch, according to Mr. Wilson.

“We will staff that appropriately for additional business,” he said.

When the work is complete, members will find five drive-thru lanes compared to the current three, and each one will have video monitoring so that, no matter what lane they’re in, members will be able to talk with the teller who is waiting on them.

“We’ll have pretty state-of-the-art technology in the new building,” Mr. Wilson said.

The project is using local laborers, according to the credit union CEO. AJK Site Development, Waddington, is working on phase one.

Other contractors include S&L Electric from Colton, which is also working with NCC Systems and RSI Roofing, Gouverneur. HVAC work is being done by Hyde Stone, which has local employees working at SeaComm. Elevator work will be done by ThyssenKrupp, which has service representatives who live and work in Potsdam.

“The board of directors certainly wanted to use as many local contractors as possible. We’ll continue to add to that list,” Mr. Wilson said.

The project’s design firm is P.W. Campbell, Pittsburgh, Pa., which is providing on-site supervision of the work.

Mr. Wilson said he was appreciative of the village Planning Board’s April approval of their 15,870-square-foot, $5.4 million expansion of their headquarters. The total space will be more than 32,000 square feet at the conclusion of the project, allowing them to consolidate their retail branch at 79 Main St. and Call Center operations.

“We’re completely out of space. We needed positions to continue to grow our business. The village Planning Board was extremely helpful. They were very supportive of the project,” he said.

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