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To Renovate Village Hall

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 13:07

Proposals to renovate the historical Beecher-Hand House, which now serves as East Hampton Village Hall, and to redesign the parking lot at Chase Bank on Main Street were discussed at the village board meeting last Thursday.

The Rev. Lyman Beecher, a Presbyterian minister who co-founded the American Temperance Society, and was the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” purchased the structure at 86 Main Street in 1800.

When Reverend Beecher decided he could no longer afford to live in East Hampton, he sold the house to Abraham Hand, a sixth-generation descendant of one of the original proprietors of East Hampton.

According to “A Brief History of Our Village Hall” by Averill D. Geus, the East Hampton Town historian, Mr. Beecher had “paid $800 for the property and spent $300 in repairs to make the dwelling habitable.”

The village, which bought the structure in 1994, is now considering spending $343,182 to renovate it.

Robert Hefner, the village’s director of historic services, told the board that a request for proposals to restore Village Hall, including its flat-roofed wing, had been issued, and only one bid, for $532,000, had been received. That bid, said Mr. Hefner, “far exceeded what we had anticipated.”

The scope of the work has now been reduced, he said, and the restoration will focus solely on the gabled-roof home. The work will include re-shingling the exterior with 24-inch Alaskan Yellow Cedar shingles, restoring the front door and the window sashes (the latter will be fitted with weather stripping), and repairing the south eaves, window trim, and the top of the east chimney. 

Three contractors had bid on the project, and Mr. Hefner recommended the board accept the lowest bid, which was submitted by Ronald Webb Builder of East Hampton. “Mr. Webb would like to start this fall,” he said.

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said the board would resolve to accept the bid at its next meeting on Friday, Oct. 18.

Representatives from Chase Bank had asked the board at its Sept. 5 meeting to redesign the layout of the parking lot at its Main Street branch, because the existing one has resulted in numerous accidents.

The village, which owns the lot, has an agreement with the bank that allows the public to use it, and allocates 15 spaces for Chase employees. 

The most problematic area of the lot is the center section on the western side of the property, which is designed to fit three cars on each side.

The board asked Drew Bennett, the village engineer, to provide a better alternative, and in a Sept. 19 memo, he recommended a layout that eliminates the center section of parking, and provides 33 spaces, four fewer than the current configuration. Last Thursday, board members backed Mr. Bennett’s plan, and suggested taking back four spaces from Chase employees to make up for the spaces lost from the redesign.

In other business, the board accepted a gift of $25,000 from the Daryl and Steven Roth Foundation for the restoration of the Dominy shops. 

Jamie Tulp, who was appointed as the village’s new beach manager this summer, provided the board with his assessment of the season. “All of us worked very well together,” he said of his administrative staff and lifeguards, and beachgoers were pleased that Main Beach had extended the time its bathrooms were open until 8 p.m.

The ocean, he said, had been relatively calm all summer. Armann Gretarsson, the lifeguard captain, had reported 50 rescues, and had asked Mr. Tulp to relay an important message to the board: “Everyone who went into the ocean came back out of the ocean.”

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