A project to rebuild Asharoken Village Hall has been rebooted after Hurricane Sandy flood damage left the building unusable.
"This is a major priority of ours now," said Mayor Greg Letica at a Village Board meeting Monday. "We can't have a building where, when village residents need their government the absolute most, it's in danger of getting flooded."
Fundraising on the project began years ago but was put on the back burner in 2008 when the financial crisis began. The new building is being designed by Asharoken Resident and Project Committee Chairperson John Ross. Ross said site plans for the roughly 2800 square foot building are not yet finalized and he is considering a customized modular structure as as an alternative. The village is no longer considering plans from Neil Hoffman of Hoffman Grayson Architects.
The village is currently awaiting a permit from the DEC and subsequent approval by the Department of Health. Ross met with the DEC recently to restake the tidal wetland boundary, which he said will allow the village to put the new building in a preferred location and save most of the parking lot.
"I'm just about finished with the final site plan plus the septic system so simultaneously we'll be ready to go in for final DEC approvals...and Health Department approvals," he said.
Ross hopes to have the permit within two months, adding that the DEC has been accomodating to muncipalities in light of post-Sandy circumstances.
Various funding sources are under consideration to pay for the project, including continued fundraising efforts, loans, and the sale of the 2.2 acre Asharoken nature preserve parcel.
Mayor Letica said selling the nature preserve, a piece of land between the National Grid plant and village homes, could conceivably fund a solution to Bevin Road, the new village hall, and more. The suggestion met with some reservation from residents.
"Through my years on the planning board I was led to believe that the village received that land from the power company and that there are covenants on it that restrict the village from doing anything but leaving it in it's natural state...so I don't know if you can sell it," said one resident. "Also, if we have to enter into any agreement with the Army Corps they typically want every half mile to have access to the beach."
The village clerk and police offices have been temporarily moved out of the current 1,900 square foot village hall building and into two trailers in the parking lot.
"Realistically, moving into two trailors is an upgrade for our staff and that really puts into perspective the facilities that we had," said Mayor Letica.