Shandaken considers moving town offices to Phoenicia
By Jay Braman Jr.
A new idea has pushed to the front of the line in the ongoing effort to decide how to spend $3 million that Shandaken has been given under the state’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.
The money is supposed to be used to make towns more resilient to future flood events and provide economic benefits as well.
With that in mind, Town Supervisor Rob Stanley started to take a hard look at the decaying town hall, located in Allaben, that holds his office and the town’s highway garage next door. While neither got wet during the infamous flooding that came with Hurricane Irene in 2011, the government hub is actually located right in the floodway of the Esopus Creek and Stanley thinks the best way to spend the $3 million is to relocate everything.
This marks the latest plan for how best to deal with the town hall. For over a decade, various administrations have tried to figure out how to rehabilitate the old structure and how to pay for it. Nothing ever came to pass.
But this plan might work. There’s already a location for the new complex too. A 25-acre piece of property alongside Route 28 in between the Phoenicia Diner and the Phoenicia Plaza. The land, currently owned by businessman Dean Gitter, was a trailer park until the late 1990s when Gitter purchased it and removed the trailers. It has since sat vacant.
Stanley envisions a complex that would not only hold town hall and the highway department but also space for the town’s ambulance squad and even a conference center. Other ideas for the complex include beefing it up with emergency generators so it can be a command post for future flood events, and even a cell tower atop the structure that Stanley said would supply service to the nearby Phoenicia business district.
The only hitch is that the plan must be approved by the state. The town needs to supply the state with a list of 10 priority projects. While the specifications for the project are still in the works, the priority list must submitted by March 12.
At Monday night’s town board meeting, held in the creaky, drafty main room of the town hall, Stanley said the criteria for NY Rising Projects has been somewhat of a moving target. “It’s changing literally weekly,” he said.”
That means, he added, that ultimately this plan may fade away like all the other efforts to solve town hall problems. “Until we vet it out further, there’s no way to know,” he said.