Tensions ran high at the Homer Village Board meeting last night where a group of residents opposed to the construction of new village offices presented petitions against a building project.
Nearly 630 village residents signed petitions urging the Village Trustees to move the village offices back to the Homer Town Hall or keep them where they are. The petition also urged the board to reject any construction of new office space.
The petition drive is part of a nearly five-year battle over office space in Homer. In 2010, the village moved out of the Town Hall citing health concerns with the building. Multiple reviews have failed to substantiate those claims.
Village Mayor Genevieve Suits has said there is a need for more space and formed a committee to look at the construction of a new Village Hall.
The committee has discussed a new building next to the village highway garage on Fulton Street.
Last night, Village Attorney Fran Casullo attempted to ease concerns that the village has made a final decision on the issue. Casullo says any recommendations on a building project would have to be approved by the board.
He believes the issue would be subject to a public hearing and that the financing of a building project would be subject to a public vote.
The village currently has $381 thousand dollars in a fund for a building project.
Village Trustee Andy Brush says the goal is to consolidate village departments into a single space. Brush says with the town renovating the town offices to accommodate a larger assessors office there is no longer an option to return to the Town Hall.
Trustee Gene Smith, who is on the building committee, affirmed Casullo’s position that nothing has been decided.
There is no timeline for when a recommendation will be made on a project. Casullo pledged that future building committee meetings would be publicized on the Village website.