After spending more than five years in “temporary offices” the New York State Canal Visitors Center, the Whitehall Town is expected to have its own building by the end of the month and plan to be able to move into it by the spring.
Mayor Peter Telisky and town Supervisor George Armstrong have been working together to pave the way for the town to move into the Skenesborough firehouse, and it appears the building could be the town’s by the end of January. The town has been searching for a permanent home since leaving the old town hall in 2006 because of mold in their old building. That building has been refurbished and is the home of City Steak and Seafood.
The move could also eventually result in town and village offices being located in the same place.
Armstrong is already planning the town’s move.
“My hope is to move into the lounge area and set up the offices in there while we work on the rest of the building,” Armstrong said.
That work will include renovations to the interior of the building so it is better suited for separate offices.
The Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company would use the truck bays for storage of equipment.
In the long term, Armstrong would like to work toward a plan that would allow courts and the village to share and use the building alongside the town, creating a municipal center under one roof.
The logistics of such a plan would still need to be worked out, but Telisky has said in the past he is in favor of sharing a building with the town.
Besides sharing the cost of services and utilities, a move could potentially allow the village to sell the current Village Hall and put it back on the tax rolls.
While a merger of the village and town is not part of an active discussion right now, having all the facilities in one place would make that process smoother.
Former Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon was able to make some progress toward relocating to the firehouse, but the move was ultimately held up by a number of factors, primarily who would assume ownership of the building if the town moved in.
According to a contract with the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company the village would assume ownership of the building if the department every dissolved, however, the town was adamant that any move to the firehouse was contingent on them assuming ownership.
Since that initial debate, much has changed, the most notable being the dissolution of the Skenesborough Fire Company.
Skenesborough voted to dissolve in early December and the village revoked their charter on Dec. 21, at the company’s request, to help expedite the process.
After a 30-day waiting period, ownership of the building will revert back to the village which will in turn hand the building over to the town.
Telisky said the town will monitor the building until it’s turned over.
Under a previous agreement, the village was going to hand over the building after the SVFC dissolved and the town made an annual payment of $20,000 (capped at $150,000) to the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, which would have absorbed Skenesborough’s operations.
However, Whitehall Fire President Brian Brooks has said the company doesn’t need the money and the village has decided not to require the town to make those payments.
The move would mark the end of a tedious process that saw the town also consider moving into the Whitehall Armory or buying the former Garden Time building