By Chris Mellides
Nearly three years after superstorm Sandy pummeled the peninsula and destroyed its old village hall, forcing the municipality to operate out of two trailers, a new $960,000 building is expected to open its doors as early as Oct. 6, Mayor Greg Letica said.
Plans to remodel the original village hall in 2006 to accommodate a larger police station never came to fruition because of a lack of funding, Letica said. But he said some local residents and village officials were still keen on expanding, and after Sandy, the community responded with requests for assistance.
“Once we announced a new campaign and a new village hall, there was a resurgence of interest and donations,” said former police commissioner and current village board member Mel Ettinger, who visits the new building site daily. “Shortly after the mayor became mayor, [superstorm Sandy] destroyed the old village hall, and not only did it give us the incentive, it gave us a tremendous necessity to get into a new building.”
The new village hall, which began construction in December of last year, will serve as Asharoken’s police station, clerk’s office, courtroom, trustee conference area, as well as an emergency shelter for locals. It cost about $960,000 to build, with funds coming from $332,000 in donations by town residents, just over $590,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency grants and $85,000 in state grants
Letica said the two-story, 5,850-square-foot new village hall is better equipped to withstand the challenges posed by natural disasters.
For instance, the first floor of the building sits 13 feet above sea level, while a retaining wall measuring 10 feet high stands between it and the water. Additionally, an underground chamber lined with gravel located below the village hall’s ground floor can trap floodwater overflow and eject the excess water through the front of the building should the chamber overfill.
Letica and Ettinger agree that the generosity and insight offered by Asharoken residents was crucial in getting this project to its current state.
“Not only have people donated financially, but they’ve donated equipment to the building and they’ve donated an incredible amount of design work that’s worth a lot of money had we had to pay for it,” said Letica. “Things like that are things that really made this project possible.”