Chatham eyes its own bench

CHATHAM–The Chatham Town Board met with the Chatham Village Board last week to work out a lease agreement for the Town Court to continue to use rooms at the Tracy Memorial Village Hall.

For several decades the town has paid rent to the village for use of the second floor of the historic brick building at the end of Main Street as the Town Court. During most of that period the Tracy Memorial building was maintained by a foundation governed by Chatham residents working with an endowment from the donors of the building and supplemented by rent payments from the town. But that changed last year when the Village Board took over maintenance of the building and hired an architecture firm to review what upgrades and repairs the building needs.

Village Mayor Tom Curran told the Town Board that repair work would cost an estimated $2.7 million and take about two years to complete.

“We really do need to pursue it,” Mayor Curran said at the Thursday, April 2 meeting. “I’d love to work with the town on this,” he said.

Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said the Town Board is looking into an alternative, which involves expanding the town hall on Route 295 north of the village to create a space for a town court. Mr. DeGroodt said he was still waiting for a plan from the town’s engineering firm. When his board has the town hall plans the Town Board will compare the costs of that plan to the cost of the repairs required at the Tracy Memorial. “It will be nice to have apples to apples,” Mr. DeGroodt said of the town and village plans.

Mayor Curran said that village is still reviewing the architect’s report, which addresses repairs to the roof of the Tracy Memorial building, repairs to the fire escape and the addition of an elevator to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He stressed that the village does not yet have the funding or specific plans to move forward with work on the building. The Village Board only recently received details of the extent of the work required.

Town Board Member Jean Rohde suggested the village look into creating a foundation to raise money.

Mayor Curran said the Tracy Foundation still exists and he has been working with its members. He said his board would look into grants and private donations to fund the repairs. “We do have funding streams to go after,” he said.

Town Councilwoman Maria Lull said that upgrades to the Tracy Memorial Building would be “vitalizing” for the village and the town. She hoped people would support the village in its attempt to repair the village hall.

In the meantime, the town will pay $1,500 a month to rent space in the Tracy for Town Court. According to village officials, the amount is the same rent the town has paid for at least 10 years.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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