Five firms have told East Hampton officials they are interested in gutting and rebuilding the old redbrick town hall that closed in 2010, but no one has attached a price tag to the work, which could cost millions of dollars.
Town offices were moved into new quarters -- a complex of renovated historic buildings -- when the old building was closed. While the new offices are visually striking, they lack space for the town's half-dozen or so departments and do not have the flexibility to accommodate future efforts to reorganize the town workforce, according to some town officials.
"We only have a meeting room for about 80 people for public hearings," said town Councilman Dominick J. Stanzione.
With the town and the builders both stressing flexibility and avoiding specifying exact space sizes, neither side has mentioned cost.
The original 7,260-square-foot town hall was built in 1960, and in recent years has been plagued by a leaky roof and other problems common to half-century-old office buildings, including troubles with the heating and air-conditioning systems.
Because of space problems, the town also owns four office condominiums at a nearby building at 300 Pantigo Rd., which house the Department of Natural Resources and other staff.
Things changed in 2007, when a wealthy couple who wanted to build a new home on their oceanfront estate on Further Lane donated a half-dozen historic buildings to create the town hall complex.
Adelaide de Menil -- a photographer and heiress to the Schlumberger oil services and equipment fortune -- and her husband, Edmund Carpenter, also gave the town $2 million to help cover the cost of moving the buildings.
Still, it cost East Hampton town about $5 million in taxpayer funds to finish the project.
Town officials now want to gut the old town hall, ripping apart its maze of corridors and small rooms to create an open office space that could be shared by town employees.
The five firms interested in the project responded to a proposal and promised to work with the town to determine its needs. The firms are: MB Architects, East Hampton; Douglas Moyer Architect, Sag Harbor; BBS Architects & Engineers, Patchogue; Gallin Beeler Design Studio, Tarrytown; and L.K. McLean Associates, Brookhaven.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said some workers -- fire marshals and building inspectors -- spend only a day or two a week in town hall and can share office space.
Wilkinson cautioned that the state's 2 percent cap on spending could mean renovations will not even be considered until the existing condominium units are sold. The town is seeking bids on the units.