New Fleischmanns village hall seen as inadequate for meetings

By Jay Braman Jr.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Four years ago the Fleischmanns Village Board saw what appeared to be an opportunity. It had just used the power of condemnation to take a piece of private property on the corner of Main and Depot streets to build some waste-treatment infrastructure as part of the sewer system provided by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. On the property sat an old, vacant building that looks as if it were some sort retail shop in years gone by.
Delaware Engineering, the firm building the sewer system, had planned to construct a new building exclusively to house the electric for some of the waste collection portion of the system, but then came the idea: Why not put the electric in the basement of the old building and use the construction money budgeted for the new building to fix up the old and make it into a village hall?
One year and $235,000 later the “Fleischmanns Village Hall” sign appeared over the completed building’s front entranceway.
But to date, it has never been opened to the public.
Last week Mayor Dave Morell convened the village board inside the building to talk about why.
“Clearly it’s not going to be a meeting hall,” he said from behind the counter, which seems more for serving lunch on then being hit with a gavel. “The layout is not functional for what we want to do.”
Trustee Fred Woller, who was on the village board back when the plans were made, said that it is now clear that the space cannot hold both a meeting hall and the village clerk’s office. At present, the village uses the Skene Memorial Library for both, and Woller noted how its business during those meetings needs documents from the clerk’s office.
Trustee Todd Pascarella, new to the board this year, chimed in. He feels the new village hall is too far out of the village’s center and therefore not as accessible to villagers.
Then another option was brought up. The building next to the library, owned by John Maier, is for sale. Morell said he is considering having the village purchase it for use as a new hall because it could serve the village’s needs where the new, unused one falls short.
But what of that new, unused one? The one that cost $235,000?
The trustees want to look into leasing out the space, but feel they need to speak to the DEP about it first. That agency, the trustees agreed, has a vested interest in the property because they were the ones that paid for it.
It remains unclear where the money to acquire the Maier’s building would come from, but Peg Ellsworth, executive director of the MARK Project, said it is possible grants can be obtained.
Malcolm Becker, a trustee who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the last election, said that before any more decisions are made the board had better know what it is getting into.
“It needs to be studied financially,” he said.