January 22, 2019

‘We’re moving along’

Homer Town Hall renovations continue; no end date yet

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Homer Town Assessor Caitlyn Brown works Thursday in temporary office space in the renovated portion of Homer Town Hall.

If Homer residents were to walk through the front door of Homer Town Hall to pay their taxes, they would be surprised at what they see: nothing.

Where the offices would normally be toward the entrance of the building to the stage at the back, about everything has been removed as part of the building’s renovation project. The senior center in the basement is untouched.

What was once a stage where movies were shown and plays were performed toward the back of the building now houses office space. At the moment, the town and village clerks are located in the offices on the stage, where residents should go to pay their taxes.

“We have signage to guide people to the back area,” Homer Town Clerk Anita Jebbett said.

Ty Takas of Binghamton-based W.L. Kline Contractors pulls up carpet during renovations Thursday at Homer Town Hall.

The assessor’s office is also located on the stage — where it will stay after renovations are complete — where people can file their exemptions.

A lot of people have been in to do both, Jebbett said.

Town Supervisor Fred Forbes said he hoped the renovation project would be done by the end of 2018, before the rush of residents looking to pay taxes. However, with three contractors working around each other’s schedules and small changes along the way it was expected work could continue on through January.

With work done on the stage area and the main floor of office spaces gutted, Forbes said he was told work should go by quick.

“I won’t even venture a guess on a new (end) date, other than the fact that we’re moving along,” Forbes said.

The cost of the project is more than $585,000. Forbes said there’s been a few change orders along the way, some with higher prices for things, and some with lower prices. So the overall cost of the project should not change much.

The design adds a center hallway, allowing for easy exit from either end of the building. The stage will be renovated to accommodate the assessor’s office, storage and an office for the town and village historian. Historic aspects of the stage area — which dates to the 1908 construction — have been left alone, such as a couple of walls with graffiti art. The front curved edge of the stage will remain; a section of it may be used to display artifacts.

The town will continue to occupy its space on the south side of the building, while the village will take the north side — where the assessor’s office is now.

In March, the board unanimously approved adding to the project, raising the south side office ceiling to about 8 feet 10 inches, so it matches the ceiling height of offices on the other side of the building. However, with all the offices demolished and ceilings removed, the area is wide open, reaching to building’s actual high rising ceiling, up past the balcony area.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Forbes said.

He told the village board there is “more than a little temptation” to keep the space open and not install the lower office ceilings. However, that would stall the project and cause for a redesign of the venting, he said.

For now, residents should continue to use the back door of the building to access the new offices on the stage.

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