Rebuild to begin on fire-damaged Section 8 homes

After three years of promises, neighbors will finally see work begin to restore two Greenport Village Section 8 houses that burned down in August 2008.

Construction is slated to begin June 30, according to North Fork Housing Alliance director Tanya Palmore.

The houses at 218  and 220 Second St. were damaged in a late afternoon blaze in mid- August 2008. The structure at 620 was demolished, while the other heavily damaged home needs to be renovated.  But because the properties belong to North Fork Housing Authority, the rebuild has been delayed by red tape in getting New York State to approve plans. New York State finances the project that provides Section 8 housing for low-income residents.

The blaze left 10 residents homeless, all of whom subsequently found other housing, Ms. Palmore said. But neighbors, concerned about both danger at the site and its potential effect on their property values, have long been asking that work get under way.

Ms. Palmore has several times come before the Village Board to explain that she couldn’t move forward with the work without state permission. She received a letter today approving June 30 as the start date for the work.

“I’m singing it from the rooftops,” Ms. Palmore said. She’s not sure how long the construction will take. “We just want it to start,” she said about the long-delayed project.

Five rental units will be created at 218 Second St., Ms. Palmore said.

Plans for the project passed muster with Historic Preservation Commission members, which is needed because the homes are situated in a historic district, last January. Architect Garrett Strang said he was working with the housing alliance to develop specifications so the project could be put out to bid.

“We’re not going out to bid tomorrow,” Mr. Strang said then. But he wanted approvals so he could move forward with getting the state to sign off on the project.

At the same time, Mr. Strang said he will resume talks with the HPC if a few aspects of the plan prove too costly for what he described as a tight budget and need to be revised.

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