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Sandy accelerates Asharoken's Village Hall plans

Trailers are currently housing the Asharoken Police Department

Trailers are currently housing the Asharoken Police Department and the Village Hall. (Dec. 28, 2012) Credit: Heather Walsh

Superstorm Sandy has accelerated Asharoken's Village Hall reconstruction project, after the current building was flooded and left unusable.

Village business is being run out of a trailer, and the police department is housed in a second, both sitting in the Village Hall parking lot. Before Sandy struck on Oct. 29, the village already was in the middle of planning for a new hall almost double its current size. Now the storm has made that a top priority for Mayor Gregory Letica.

"We are working hard to finalize the design of the building," Letica said. "At the same time, we are working to finalize figuring how to pay for it."

Village officials are looking to build the new hall on the same lot as the current hall, but not on the same spot, which is prone to flooding, Letica said. The hall is on Asharoken Avenue, and the site fronts on Northport Bay.

"It is at risk of being flooded at the time that we need the Village Hall to be high, dry and functioning the most," he said.

The current building also is too small and antiquated, he said, problems that had nothing to do with Sandy. "Now that it has gotten flooded, it has pushed the time frame up a little," Letica said.

A committee of six residents has been working on the project, he said. Resident and committee chairman John W. Ross, of John Ross Custom Homes in Northport, is designing the new hall. The most recent plans call for a building of about 2,800 square feet that would house the police department, village clerk and an all-purpose room. The current Village Hall is about 1,500 square feet, with space for the clerk, police and a room used for court and other village functions.

Village Clerk Nancy Rittenhouse said the new hall will also serve as an emergency shelter, which she said was "really needed during Hurricane Sandy."

Police Officer-in-Charge Ray Mahdesian said the police department needs more space to operate. He said the department will be upgrading its communications system, which will require more room. Additionally, since he started on the force about 40 years ago, the number of officers has grown from seven to 11.

Letica said the village has about $160,000 in a capital reserve account dedicated for the new village hall from past fundraising.

He said village officials are exploring potential funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government grants, bonding and more fundraising. It is too early in the process for the village to have an estimate of how much the project will cost, Rittenhouse said.

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