When East Hampton moved its main town offices into a complex of barns on Pantigo Road a half-decade ago, they closed the doors on the old brick town hall building and moved into the new buildings closer to the street.
But the original town hall building still sits, vacant and filled with mold and mildew, waiting for the town to put together a cohesive plan for the future of the site.
Town consultants L.K. McLean Associates presented plans to complete the town hall complex to the town board at their Sept. 20 work session. The plans include completing work never finished for the town’s 2007 master plan for the site, in addition to demolition of the old town hall and the construction of a new complex of buildings in its place.
The $8.5 million project would enable the town to sell its office condominium space at 300 Pantigo Place and centralize all town offices in one location, providing better pedestrian access and parking for all buildings on the main town hall site.
Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the cost of the work could likely be paid for if the town sells the former site of its scavenger waste plant on Springs-Fireplace Road, and then sells the 300 Pantigo Place offices once the new project is complete.
The town has also received a $500,000 energy efficiency grant that could be used for the project.
“Building construction costs are what they are, and there’s no point in underestimating what the costs are, whether we like what the costs are or not,” said Mr. Cantwell. “I do think the sale of the condos and the scavenger waste plant would pay for this project completely.”
McLean Associates architect Joe Catropa presented plans for the project to the town board. They call for the demolition of the old town hall building and the construction of three interconnected timber-framed barn-style buildings, matching the aesthetic of the barns currently in use, which could be expanded if the need for town services grows.
He estimated the functional space of the new buildings at 12,000 square feet, roughly the same size as the existing office space at 300 Pantigo Place. The buildings would have an open floor plan, allowing for better interaction of staff than outdated cubicle design.
The building would cost $6.75 million, and $1.7 million would be spent on other site work, including demolition of the existing town hall, improving pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow, and renovations to two other existing buildings on site.
Architect Peter Gumple, who sits on the town committee charged with envisioning the future of the town hall campus, said the buildings were designed “to encourage the next generation of staff to come here,” and to be a “paradigm for civic pride and environmental consciousness.”
“Coming in through here now is an embarrassment,” he added. “There are potholes, and a winding road that leads you in the wrong direction. It doesn’t deal with pedestrian access. The Town Clerk’s office is quite a schlep from the parking lot. We’d like to address those problems with this new building.”
Mr. Gumple said that the possibility of preserving the old town hall building was examined by the committee, but “by the time we gutted it out and solved all of the environmental issues, it just didn’t seem to make any economic sense to try to keep it…. After it was gutted, all we’d have was a configuration inappropriate for development.”
Town Board members said they liked the plans, but Councilman Fred Overton, who began working for the town in 1990 and has heard many suggestions for how to improve the town hall complex over the past 26 years, said he’s skeptical that he’ll live to see the changes.
Mr. Cantwell said that after final plans and bid specs are complete, the project could go out to bid in six to eight months.
“That’s certainly within your lifetime,” he told Mr. Overton.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that having a central campus would provide a great deal of efficiency,” said Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc. “I think the concept is long overdue.”