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Turning down laboratory site

The Redfield City Council has taken some heat for turning down a mothballed 87,600-square-foot research laboratory and more than 40 acres for the municipality.

“I would have done it in a heartbeat, then started advertising it for sale by 1 p.m. the next day on eBay,” one elected official in another municipality observed.

Redfield aldermen balked twice April 15 when asked if they would consider accepting the former laboratory and 43.64 acres.

The four of six council members who voted against acceptance noted high maintenance costs and “too many unknowns” as the reasons they turned down the property.

Mayor Tony Lawhon said Charles River Laboratories, a Massachusetts research firm, has indicated it was interested in donating the lab, closed in 2009, and land to the city, but asked for a commitment from Redfield by 8 a.m. the following day.

Based on the questions posed by aldermen, several were concerned about any restrictions that might be imposed by Charles River should the city receive the property.

Among “physical facility items” list by the company:

• “Roof will need replacing”;

• “One of three chillers is not currently operational”;

• “The boiler in LARF2 is not operational due to a leak into the fire chamber of the boiler that corroded the boiler beyond repair”;

• “A fire sprinkler line on the third floor of the main building froze, and then burst in January 2010”;

• “Two of the elevators are expected to need significant repairs, while the other will need minor to significant repairs”; and

• “The large generator to the main building was transferred to a different Charles River facility.”

Lawhon said the municipality’s $650,000 annual budget would be under pressure to make needed repairs and the estimated $100,000 annual cost to keep the utilities on at minimum levels in the buildings.

A “yes” vote was a bit more complicated than it might appear.