Hackett House repairs face funding problems

Hackett House is in need of major repairs but, despite a grant for the work, money for the project is scarce.

At the July 14 meeting of the Hyde Park Town Board, members of the town Recreation Commission and town engineer Pete Setaro discussed what needs to be done and how to pay for the work at the 146-year-old house, which serves as the administrative offices for the town recreation department and also provides meeting space for the trails and shade tree committees.

Earlier this year, with the help of the Hyde Park Visual Environment Committee and town Recreation Director Kathleen Davis, the town obtained a $29,000 grant from the Charlotte Cunneen-Hackett Charitable Trust, which they planned to use for repainting the house. But at the board meeting Setaro reported that both bids for the work came in at around $50,000, well over the amount received.

Because of that, Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr said new repair strategies, like replacing the siding with synthetic options, were being considered. Two options being considered are vinyl and fiber cement, which could be made to look like clapboard. Setaro estimated that the former would cost around $6 per sq. ft., or about $30,000 for the 5,000 sq. ft. house, with an additional $7,800 for aluminum wrapping of the three doors and 23 windows. The fiber cement clapboard would be more expensive, at an estimated $9 per sq. ft., or $53,000 total including the aluminum wrapping.

However, Rohr said it’s not just siding that is needed, but also insulation beneath to address the cost of utilities. “It costs around $10,000 to heat and cool this building,” she said.

Setaro noted that these are not the only repairs needed.“This is just meant to be a general overview, there are more things that we should be checking into depending on what everyone thinks is best, because we did have that ice damage that would need patching and should probably be factored in,” he told the board.

In addition, he said, the ornate features and brackets in the porch’s upper trim, the columns that support the porch and the windows all need fixes. Setaro estimated that the columns would cost around $35,000, while the wrapping of the trims/brackets would be $12,000. He also said that $5,000 was the estimated cost of just painting the trim. As for the windows, he estimated about $750 for each one, for a total of $18,000.

However after discussing the options further and noting the total cost of $85,000-100,000 for the siding and windows, Davis suggested that the town re-glaze the windows to cut costs.

On the matter of funding for the project, Recreation Commission member Scott Marxer said the commission agreed they only want to use the recreation trust funds for new or expanding facilities. The commission is a group of volunteers who meet monthly and help run and plan recreation department activities and events.

“We believe it’s up to the town to maintain the building,” he said.

Later, Rohr told the Observer that while the commission is responsible for the maintenance and management of all town-owned and -operated parks and facilities, repair decisions require town board approval. The board also controls how the trust funds are used.

At the meeting, Davis said she had emailed the Charlotte Cunneen-Hackett Charitable Trust to ask if they would be willing to contribute further funds for the repairs. Hackett House was built in 1868 by John Hackett. His son, John Mulford Hackett, married Charlotte Cunneen and the trust in her name was started in 1971, a year before her death, in order to ensure financial support for organizations she wished to fund.

For now, Rohr said, “I think we should go out to bid for vinyl siding. Especially since we’re lacking for time.”

Setaro said the town would need to send out the bid by mid-to-late August in order to get the project done before winter.

Last week, Rohr told the Observer, “Kathleen Davis has ascertained that the Cunneen Hackett Charitable Trust will allow the [previously secured] funds to be used for siding. The Town Board is grateful for their generosity and support and we look forward to making a decision so that the project can be completed this fall.”

Once the town board receives the bids from possible contractors she added, they will discuss the issue at one of their regular meetings and vote on the best option.

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