Grant pending for Gillette House work
The historic Gillette House in Sayville

File photo

Grant pending for Gillette House work

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
2/22/2018


SAYVILLE—The historic Gillette House on Gillette Avenue has been pretty much off limits to the community groups that utilize that space since the heating system failed in January, causing ruptured pipes and flooding. Save for the Greater Sayville Food Pantry that has been operating there in the cold, the groups have had to use alternative spaces arranged by the Town of Islip. That situation was addressed in the Jan. 18, 2018 issue of this newspaper in the article “Historic town building left in the cold.” However, in the fall of 2016, Sen. Tom Croci awarded the town a $50,000 grant through the New York State Dormitory Authority to be used for Gillette House repairs. Although repairs are now said to begin shortly, those relocated and the food pantry volunteers working without heat are wondering why it has taken so long to get the necessary repairs underway, especially when the funding was available to get it done.

Chris Molluso, Croci’s chief of staff, said that the grant didn’t state what renovations it would fund. “We didn’t want to limit [the funding] to just one thing,” he remarked. However, as of mid-February, his office had not received the required paperwork for the town regarding the grant.

Molluso explained the process of using a grant. He said after it’s awarded, the recipient must put whatever work needed out to bid and when a contractor is chosen, the work is paid for and then the recipient is reimbursed through the grant after the work is completed.

“The town is still in the process of gathering estimates for the renovations,” Molluso said.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, a meeting that was called by the town brought together supervisor Angie Carpenter and Department of Public Works/Parks commissioner Tom Owens with representatives from the groups that meet at the Gillette House to talk about their concerns regarding the building. 

Doug Broadhurst of Wet Paints, an art group that meets at the Gillette House and has relocated temporarily to the Sayville Fire Department, said he was satisfied with the meeting. He also expects a good response. “They seem committed to fixing the Gillette House,” he said. “And they had solutions, such as going to a gas burner.”

Chestene Coverdale, the director of the food pantry, was one of several attendees who had sent a letter of thanks to the town for holding the meeting. However, a week later, after operating in the unheated building, she said she’s concerned nothing much would be done about the situation anytime soon.

“The discussion went smoothly,” said Coverdale. “[The supervisor] tried to explain how slowly and time-consuming it is to put funding together for this. But there are still times we are freezing. We’re just struggling.”

Caroline Smith, a spokesperson for Islip Town, responded to the Islip Bulletin in an email regarding the grant by noting, “The paperwork is on its way to Albany.” She said a contractor for the work has been chosen and added, “We’ll begin working on the heating system once we have all the radiators and equipment in place.”