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Upper Brookville Village Hall to get a permanent home after 30 years

The municipal government office over the years has worked out of an elementary school, a laundry room and a carriage house. New funding will allow for a permanent home to be built.

Upper Brookville is in its fourth Village Hall in the past three decades — a carriage house of a former estate. Construction is set to begin next year on the first permanent Village Hall on a 2-acre, mostly wooded plot. (Credit: Newsday / David Olson)

Upper Brookville’s peripatetic  Village Hall moved in August from a laundry building to the carriage house of a former estate that is now Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, its fourth home in the past three decades.

Its next move may be its last, officials say.

Construction is to begin next year on Upper Brookville’s first permanent Village Hall, on a 2-acre plot of land that was set aside for village offices more than 30 years ago but has remained vacant.

Mayor Elliot Conway lamented that the North Shore village of about 1,700 residents has no central gathering place, but the new facility will change that. 

“This creates a great sense of neighborhood and community,” Conway said.

Village Hall for many years was in an elementary school that has since been demolished, with public hearings held in the gymnasium and some village board meetings in a mayor’s basement, said Ginny Kunken, who served on the planning board in the 1990s when a permanent Village Hall was being discussed.

A builder had donated the mostly wooded land for a new Village Hall in 1987 — perhaps because of a requirement for a cash or land donation in exchange for building a subdivision — and architectural drawings were completed, Kunken said. But plans for a new building were repeatedly delayed.

“They really wanted to do it badly, but the money wasn’t there,” she said.

That changed this year, when the state approved a $250,000 grant for the building and the village board set aside $500,000 in surplus funds for the project. Another $150,000 may come from additional surplus money or donations from residents, and $100,000 likely will come from a fund designated for a park or community center, Conway said.

An architect is preparing revised drawings for what will likely be a building of about 3,500 square feet in a “traditional” residential style, he said.

The Village Hall will double as a venue for recitals, neighborhood meetings and other community events, Conway said. During severe weather, it will serve as a shelter and a place where residents can charge cellphones using energy from a gas-powered generator.

There also will be a dedicated parking lot for the building. Visitors to the current Village Hall must park in a grass field, walking in the dark and through snow during the winter.  

The new Village Hall will have high-speed Internet. With no fiber optic or cable at the current location, officials now use dial-up Internet that is “very slow and subject to blackouts,” Conway said.

The plan is to open the new building in 2020.

“I’m excited about it,” Kunken said. “It really gives the village an identity we didn’t have.”

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