Town Records Molder Away

      While the East Hampton Town clerk waits for delivery of a vault to store town records, to be placed in or adjacent to the new Town Hall building that opened four years ago, a storehouse of official records is moldering in the basement of the old Town Hall.

       Abandoned and left shuttered, unheated and uncooled, the old building, which had occasional mold problems that were quickly dealt with when it was occupied, has become so infected with mold that employees, after going there to fetch files, have complained to Ed Michels, the town’s safety officer, of headaches and sinus problems.

       Mr. Michels said this week that the chief fire marshal, Dave Browne, has been asked to inspect the building and consider posting keep-out signs.

       While the building was still in use, its courtroom was sealed off and condemned due to a leaking, crumbling ceiling.

       The building has been targe ted for an overhaul and renovation to create a “European office landscape” — an open floor plan accommodating numerous town departments that would be moved from their present sites, including the nearby Pantigo Place office complex — using a $536,425 New York State Local Government and Efficiency Program grant awarded to East Hampton in June. The grant rewarded efforts from 2010 to 2012 under Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s administration to reduce and reorganize the town staff and to establish better financial controls.

       The open work space design envisioned for the renovated old Town Hall is “intended to provide a more collaborative and humane work environment,” according to the grant application submitted to the state by the town, and “a more conducive work environment [that] will create greater work flow efficiencies and positively impact employee confidence levels.”

       Mr. Wilkinson, whose two terms in office conclude in six weeks, did not respond to questions this week about how the mold problem in the building might affect the renovation plan.

       According to Carole Brennan, the assistant town clerk, who will take office as town clerk in January succeeding incoming Councilman Fred Overton, the historic records contained in a vault on the main floor of the old town hall building are intact.

       With a larger vault accessible to the clerk’s office at its new site, in which the majority of the town records could be stored, she said she would be better able to serve members of the public seeking historical information.

       The town recently announced the receipt, with East Hampton Village, of a second state grant, for $400,000, to be used for a joint fueling facility for official vehicles.

       In a press release, Mr. Wilkinson credited the town’s chief auditor, Charlene Kagel, and grants administrator, Nicole Ficeto, for the successful application. “This is an example of how municipal governments can cooperate through a shared services model that benefits the taxpayers of both jurisdictions.  As you know, this now totals over $900,000 in Local Government Efficiency Awards this administration has received in 2013 alone and is a clear template for future administrations to follow,” he wrote.