Richard Yastrzemski says that as a Southampton Village trustee, a thorn in his side since he was first elected in 2008 has been that two floors of Village Hall sit empty and unused.
Now the Village Board is looking to change that, by installing an elevator in the century-old building and renovating one of the vacant floors so it can be used for village offices. While last month month village officials eyed the second floor for a renovation, Village Administrator Stephen Funsch reported during Thursday's Village Board meeting that it would be cheaper to renovate the third floor, which is completed gutted.
Funsch said the third-floor renovation could run the village between $300,000 and $350,000. The price comes in much cheaper than an earlier abandoned plan for a $5 million addition to Village Hall, which would have included extending the back of the building into the parking lot to accomodate an elevator. The new plan calls for installing the elevator in one of three potential areas within the existing walls of Village Hall.
Trustee Nancy McGann, who joined the Village Board in 2005 along with Mayor Mark Epley and former Trustee Paul Robinson, said that when they entered office they were astonished by the initial price tag of renovating Village Hall and adding an elevator. “To get this down to three or four hundred thousand is a big difference,” she said.
Village officials are looking to just renovate one floor for the time being so the Building Department, which moved out in 2006, can return to Village Hall and the village can stop expending $50,000 each year on rent for offices at the 71 Hill Street complex.
"I personally believe that anything that has to do with the hub of this village should be in this building,” Yastrzemski said.
Funsch asked the board to consider approving a bond of up to $600,000 to pay for the Village Hall renovation and elevator at the same time as the restoration of the village's World War I monument at Agawam Park.
The village will have until May 29, 2013, to get "hard and fast numbers" and close on the deal, Funsch said.
Various offices have been housed in Village Hall over the years, from the phone company to the post office.
The Police Department occupied the second floor until 2002, when it moved into a brand new facility on Windmill Lane. The Village Board has floated the idea in the past of selling Village Hall and using the proceeds to build a new facility next to the police station, but many residents spoke out against the plan, wanting to keep Village Hall at the heart of Main Street.