The second floor of 195 Rockaway Ave. is basically “move-in ready,” noted Mayor Ed Fare. The village officially took possession of the building last week.
It’s been more than a year in the making, but early 2013 is when the village is finally going to move into its new building on Rockaway Avenue, Mayor Ed Fare said during an interview with the Herald about the village’s plans for the new year that was followed by a tour of the property.
The building at 195 Rockaway Ave. had served as Village Hall and the courtroom until the present facility was built in 1954. When the building was put up for sale, officials pursued it, to alleviate overcrowding at other village facilities and to give the downtown business district an economic boost.
Though it took title to the building about two months ago through eminent domain, the village finally got full control at 4 p.m. on Dec. 28, when a law firm on the second floor officially moved out. Fare said that the top level is “move-in ready,” because much of it has been renovated in recent years. Village workers will have to give it a thorough cleaning first, and decide what furniture left behind will be usable.
Once that’s done, Fare said, the village’s law enforcement annex will open there, with the Public Safety, Code Enforcement and Auxiliary Police departments moving in. He said that could happen within the month.
Renovating the downstairs to turn it into the village’s courthouse will take more time, however. The goal, Fare said, is to restore the space to a 1920s-era courtroom — the building opened in 1926 — which means that it will need more extensive work. The village will seek the guidance of an architect, as well as outside funding. “It seems as though libraries and courthouses can get grants,” Fare said, adding that taxes would not be raised to pay for the work.
The village plans to sell a small municipal parking lot off Rockaway Avenue, and he said that the $150,000 the sale is expected to generate will help fund the courtroom renovation.
Some additional work that needs to be done includes the construction of a handicapped-accessible entrance and the installation of an elevator. The building also needs to be power-washed, Fare said, and signs will be put up, identifying it as a municipal building.