The rent’s late in Chatham… by a century

CHATHAM–The village will receive $129,000 from the Tracy Memorial Village Hall Fund.

At its January 9 meeting the Village Board approved an agreement with the board of the fund that will transfer money the fund has collected in rent payments from the town, which uses the second floor of the village hall for town court. The agreement resolves an issue that goes back about 60 years over who owns the building known locally as “the Tracy.”

“The control is where it should be,” said Attorney Robert Tremper, who was at the meeting representing the Tracy Fund Board of Trustees. Mr. Tremper said he researched the history of the ownership of the building, which has been village property for a century. At some point the fund took over all maintenance of the building and started receiving rent payments for use of the municipal building.

The building was given to the village by the Tracy family in 1913 and the fund was set up in 1927 to help maintain it. Mr. Tremper said that under the new agreement the Village Board will now “have control over the building. That includes any lease.”

The only tenant in the building that pays rent is the Town of Chatham Court, which has been there for over a decade. The town has not had a lease with the fund since 2006 but has continued paying over $1,500 in rent to the fund for the last eight years.

“It’s kind of a shock to find out that we are responsible for the building,” said Mayor Tom Curran, who talked about the major repairs needed, including the fire escape, rotting windows in the basement and other upgrades. On the bright side, the knowledge that the village owns the building and the board can make needed changes is “kind of freeing,” he said.

The money from the fund will go into the village’s general fund for now, said the mayor. The Tracy Fund will continue to give the village about $2,200 yearly from the investment income that will go into the village budget for maintenance of the building. The fund will keep $75,000 accumulated over the years from other sources.

“This is the cleanest way it can be done,” said Mr. Tremper of the $129,000 that will go to the village. He said that the Tracy Board, which has been maintaining the building for years, could advise the Village Board on what the building needs.

The Village Board has now has to renegotiate a contract with the town for use of the courtroom, a task Mayor Curran said is under way. The space is rented by the Chatham Film Club during the club’s annual film festival and by other groups for small events throughout the year.

Also at the meeting the board:

Heard Mayor Curran said that garbage bags have been put out that do not have the correct stickers on them or are over the 20-pound limit. He said he would advise the hauler to leave those bags

Discussed extended terms for mayor and trustees from 2 years to 4 years, a move that would save the village money in election expanses. Currently the village holds an election every year; longer terms would result in elections every two years. The change would have to be approved by voters in a referendum at the election in March

Learned that village will receive about $28,000 from NYSSEG after an energy audit was conducted.

Approved requesting bids for recoating work on the water tower. The bids will be handled but Village Engineer Pat Prendergast

Heard Fire Chief Paul Pratt present end-of-year report from the Fire Department. He said the busiest day for the fire company was Mondays and the busiest time was between 4 and 5 p.m.

The next village meeting will be Thursday, February 13 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .


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