The Piermont Board of Trustees recently began discussing the option of renting out the Piermont Train Station as a private residence to help pay for the cost of upkeep for the building.
Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders estimated the annual upkeep of the building, which is located on Ash Street, at $4,000.
Piermont residents got their opportunity to speak on the issue during Tuesday's meeting and many opposed leasing the building or making any changes to it.
Piermont Historical Society Chair Richard Esnard spoke against the plan and presented the trustees with approximately 150 petitions opposing converting the space to a single-family rental.
"As a rental, you're going to take the building, this jewel of Piermont, an historic site, and ....you're going to hide it," Esnard said. "It's going to be hidden. Eventually, the memory will fade."
Trustee John Gallucci, Jr. helped with the evaluation of the building for conversion. He said any changes would be kept as minimal as possible and with the idea of being able to return it to its current state. No changes would be made to the building's exterior.
"We have no intention of sheet rocking or modifying," Callucci said. "It could be returned to its current state. From my perspective, I'd like to see some activity there. This particular building, the second floor had always been used as a residence. I don't think it is a drastic change."
Former Village Trustee Audie Moran, who played a major role in the village's work to acquire the property, strongly opposed the idea.
"I personally began the process of acquiring the building years before I came onto the village board and worked a few more years while on the board to assure the village was able to purchase this historic building," Moran said. "I never would have done the work I did had I known the board would rent it out as a private residence."
Moran spoke of the history of the acquisition of the property, including the formation of the Piermont Historical Society, which began with the purpose of restoring Piermont Station. Estimates put the cost of that restoration between $80,000 and $100,000. Read more in this report on Patch.
"The Piermont Historical Society has done an amazing job and gone over and above anything that any of us could have visualized," Moran said. "But the village board has struggled over the years trying to figure out what use the train station should serve. It has stood largely vacant. I personally do not have a problem with it sitting empty. It is magnificent and everything does not have to have a purpose or use."
One issue is access, with very limited parking anywhere near the building. Esnard proposed the creation of a committee to come up with a plan for its use and to generate funding to pay for the upkeep of the building.
"Fundraising is the key to the whole thing," Esnard said. "We need people to come work within the building to make it something really great. The people I want to see sign up are those who say we never open it up. Give us two days a year and we can open that station up every day."
Trustee Steven Silverberg offered to sere as liaison with the Piermont Historical Society. The discussion was set to continue at the Piermont Village Trustees meeting Feb. 18.