October 23, 2021

Village of Homer returns to town hall

Nick Graziano/contributing photographer

The Homer village officials, from left to right, acting Clerk Kalee Updyke, trustees Pat Clune, Ed Finkbeiner, Kevin Slack and Tim Daley, and Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe and about 15 residents listen to Rich Cunningham, a senior consultant with Thoma Development Consultants, speak in Town Hall’s senior center Wednesday night. It is the first time since 2010 that the Village Board has met in the building.

HOMER — The village of Homer had its first board meeting since 2010 in Homer Town Hall, discussing Wednesday topics such as its return to town hall and electric-car charging stations.

For the past few months the village, and the town have planned for the return, but while the meeting in the building’s senior center marked the first step, many more remain.

The town is looking to send out for bid the renovation ideas to accommodate the move to get an estimate of the costs, village Trustee Pat Clune said. The town plans on covering whatever those renovation costs will be. If the estimate comes back higher than the town is willing to pay, Clune said the town will go with a different plan.

The current plan includes relocating the Assessor’s Office, which sits to the left of the entrance to the building, to a former stage area in the back of the building now used for storage. A central hallway will have to be added to the building, allowing easy access to front and rear exits.

The bathrooms behind the Clerk’s Office will also be redone and the mayor will share space with the town historian in the office to the left of the building’s entrance, Homer Town Supervisor Fred Forbes said last week.

To temporarily accommodate the village offices, Forbes and code enforcement officials would move from their current office that lies to the right of the main entrance, across the hall to an empty office behind the Assessor’s Office.

Once stage renovations are complete, the assessor would move back to that area and the assessor’s office would be renovated to house village offices — the same space the village occupied before it moved out in 2010 — due to claims of problems with air quality.

The village’s current 900-square-foot building at 53 S. Main St. is too small. The village turned down an offer to move back into Town Hall in 2015, and the Village Board, prior to Village Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe being elected mayor earlier this year, debated over where the village should move its offices.

Once McCabe was elected, replacing former Mayor Genevieve Suits, and Village Trustee Tim Daley was elected this year to replace former Trustee Gene Smith, the board unanimously voted to move back into Town Hall.

“We’re still in the planning phase for the transition,” Clune said.

McCabe said when the village will move back in remains up in the air. While the village would like to move back in as soon as possible, he said the town ultimately sets that schedule as it is the one paying for the renovations.

Trustee Kevin Slack said he went through Town Hall in a wheelchair to see how accessible it was and found some areas that need improvement. When trying to enter the building through the back entrance — the only wheelchair-accessible entrance — Slack said he found it hard to get the door open and keep it open. A button to open the door would be the solution.

Once inside the building, Slack said he found most of the doorways are too narrow, and thresholds were hard to maneuver around, as was the bathroom. He said he almost tipped over in the wheelchair.

Slack said Homer Town Board Member Barry Warren was with him while he did this, so the town is aware of the issues and plans to address them.
“This is not something we’re going to let slip,” Clune said.