The Huntington Town Board has appropriated up to $800,000 to clean up the James D. Conte Center, a former armory named for the late assemblyman in Huntington Station, to develop it as a community center.
The funds will come from the town Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement Fund for such things as asbestos, lead and mold remediation in the 25,255-square-foot building at 100 E. Fifth St.
The board also selected Syosset-based Liro Engineers Inc. to provide professional services for hazardous material abatement project design, project monitoring and air sampling. The $42,956 contract will be paid for with capital funds.
"Cleaning the site has to be done before we get to the next step, which is developing the armory as a community center," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. "We're pushing to get this finished. Given the environmental work, if we didn't have that, we would have had some renovation done to the gymnasium and bathrooms at least."
Both resolutions were approved 5-0 at last week's town board meeting.
Town officials plan to use the building as a recreation facility with a full-sized indoor basketball court and meeting rooms, while also providing space for Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244.
The state transferred ownership of the 3.6-acre site and building to the town in April 2013. Conte was instrumental in securing the transfer of the decommissioned building, which was used by the New York Army National Guard before it closed June 1, 2011.
Shortly after Conte died in October 2012, the town board voted unanimously to name the armory in memory of the Republican assemblyman, who represented the Huntington Station district for 24 years.
Last month, the town applied for two state grants, totaling $7 million, including a $5 million Energy Research and Development Authority Cleaner Greener Communities Program grant for an energy-efficient renovation and adaptive reuse of the building.