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Aug 3, 2010 4:37 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town government will move into "new" digs next month

Aug 3, 2010 4:37 PM

East Hampton’s new Town Hall complex, created from four of the eight buildings in the collection of 18th century barns and houses and sheds that were moved to Pantigo Road in 2007, will be open for business next month, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said last week.

Mr. Wilkinson, members of the Town Board, the legal department, the budget director, support staff, and a few other town officials will move into the complex of historic buildings, which have been connected to each other by a glass atrium to form a single building. The new building has a main floor and a lower level.

Town Board meetings will be held in a new beamed-wood auditorium on the main floor that will hold 85 people, which is a bit smaller than the current auditorium, which holds 98 people.

“We’ll be in a position to be in there September. We don’t really have the money to finish paying for the construction just yet, but the new building is pretty much done,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

Of the $6.5 million construction project cost, the town currently owes $1.5 million. The administration of former Supervisor Bill McGintee borrowed $6.5 million for the project and paid $5 million toward that amount owed, according to Budget Director Len Bernard. But when the Wilkinson administration took over, $1.5 million of the original loan was not in the capital fund.

“Apparently, money that was borrowed for capital projects had been spent on other things, which we are still trying to get to the bottom of,” Mr. Bernard said.

The $1.5 million currently owed will eventually be paid through the capital fund, Mr. Bernard said. The funds will come, in part, from the $30 million deficit financing approved by the State Legislature and recently signed by the governor. The town has taken $15 million from that financing so far and will soon borrow $5.8 million more. Of that, $3.8 million is going to the capital fund.

On Friday, Mr. Wilkinson led a reporter through the complex, which is an attractive combination of old and new, with modern fixtures and old, refurbished wooden beamed walls and ceilings.

The historic houses, barns and sheds were donated to the town by Adelaide de Menil and her husband Edmund Carpenter. They were previously on the grounds of the couple’s house on Further Lane. The couple, who had been collecting the historic buildings from various locations as a project, sold the Further Lane property in 2007. They paid for moving the structures and donated $2 million to the town for their upkeep. In April 2007, the buildings were gingerly pulled through a field on Sam Lester’s Skimhampton property and across Pantigo Road to the grounds in front of Town Hall.

“They are offices now and as offices they are serviceable and they seem to be fine,” Ms. de Menil said on Monday. “They are splendid and we feel very fortunate that the town has them now. I think that, by and large, the buildings are wonderful and I’m very pleased that the town government was willing to accept these buildings and they could be saved.”

The four buildings that were attached together include two barns, the Bridgehampton barn and the Parsons Barn, and two houses nearly identical in size and configuration, the Hedges House and the Hand house, according to chief architect Randy Correll, who is a partner in Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York City.

Two houses, the Peach Farm and the Baxter House, and a barn, the Baxter Barn, will remain empty for now due to lack of funds, Mr. Wilkinson said. Plans call for three offices in the Peach Farm house, perhaps someday when funds become available, he said. A shed will house power equipment.

“The challenge of this project was how to have these buildings connected and retain their integrity,” Mr. Correll said. “We wanted to make them interesting, functional and attractive and we discovered that a way to connect them was with a low glass atrium.”

A tricky part of the restoration was getting enough space on the lower level for two suites, for the town attorney’s offices and the budget director’s offices, he said.

The interiors of the buildings did not require a lot of work, Mr. Correll said, because Ms. de Menil refurbished the interiors of some of the buildings when she acquired them in the 1970s.

The architect added a sprinkler system and a lighting system. “We chose fixtures that would give the level of light required but be unobtrusive at the same time,” he said.

Former Supervisor McGintee got the idea for a Town Hall complex composed of the historic buildings after then-Councilman Job Potter informed him that Ms. de Menil was selling her Further Lane property and looking to donate the 18th-Century barns and houses.

“Returning the structures to their original properties was a daunting idea,” Supervisor McGintee said during an interview with The East Hampton Press in 2007. “I then thought it might be an idea to have them for a Town Hall complex,” he said. He proposed that Ms. de Menil donate the East Hampton buildings to the town and she agreed.

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Should have had the CPF pay for the rest of the building as an administrative expense. CPF needs to help the community not just buy land. CPF is just a tax entity with a defined mission...things change, so should the CPF.
By voter (33), Amagansett on Aug 4, 10 8:46 AM
Voter---couldn't agree with you more. They should put it out for referendum to use CPF funds to help with the fiscal mess... Let the taxpaying public decide... We approved the CPF in the first place. If taxes keep going up, CPF will probably be voted down next time... Would be a great use of these funds...and we live a very " preserved" area... Out in Montauk it's already around seventy percent preserved land....
By earl (31), springs on Aug 4, 10 2:49 PM
Be careful what you wish for - "they" will quickly wind up depleting the fund for all manner of non-tax-relief stunts, ala Stony Brook in SH (not that "we taxpayers" can vote on it or otherwise touch it). CPF has been a tremendous benefit to the region, and after the hijinks of the past several years hopefully it will be left alone to do what it was intended for.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Aug 9, 10 5:14 PM
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