Hampton Bays Church Will Repair Leaky Steeple Early Next Year Thanks To Donations

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The Hampton Bays United Methodist Church steeple will be fixed early next year thanks to thousands of dollars donated to the house of worship.

Pastor Lillian Hertel said the leaky steeple roof has been problematic since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in October 2012. Every time it rains, she noted, water drips down from it and continually damages the church ceiling below.

“I’m really, really overwhelmed by what everyone did for us,” Ms. Hertel said this week of the donors.

She estimated that fixing the steeple roof will cost between $8,000 and $10,000, noting that most of that money was raised through fundraisers, starting with the one held at Edgewater Restaurant in Hampton Bays in August. A Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle were also featured at the event.

In addition, the church held a fair and a yard sale to raise additional funds, and also received monetary donations from local businesses.

“We are about $5,000 short,” Ms. Hertel noted before quickly adding that church officials are still moving forward with the work. “But we have some funds available and donations are still coming in.”

Ms. Hertel said the church has already hired a construction company—she could not recall the name of the firm—and that the preliminary work could begin as soon as after Christmas. She explained that in addition to accommodating the company’s schedule, officials thought it would be best to hold off on the work until after this year’s holiday services.

After the steeple work is done, officials said they will continue to raise funds to complete assorted repairs to the interior of the 108-year-old house of worship. Ms. Hertel said that list includes repainting the walls and repairing sections of the stained glass windows that have popped from their frames and cannot be reset. She also wants to eventually create a center aisle by having the benches split into three sections while also converting the rear of the church, where a long table and chairs now sit, into a parlor.

Money to complete those repairs will be raised at a fundraiser at Villa Paul Restaurant in Hampton Bays in the spring.

The order in which those items will be tackled will ultimately be decided by a committee featuring between six and eight church members. Ms. Hertel previously explained that the committee, which she will not be a part of, will be put together after the steeple is fixed.

While they are grateful for the continued donations, church officials still intend to sell off approximately 4 acres of their 8.5-acre property that sits off West Montauk Highway and use some of those proceeds to fund future work. The property must still be appraised by James McLauchlen Sr., of James R. McLauchlen Real Estate in Southampton.

The next step, Ms. Hertel explained, is for church leaders to go before the Southampton Town Board to request that the land be subdivided. She plans to have the property on the market by the summer.

“I know it sounds long, but you want to make sure you do everything right,” Ms. Hertel said.

Connie Schneider, a church trustee, previously explained that church officials completed an assessment of the best uses for their land and decided that some sort of light business, such as a nursery school, or possibly new homes would be the best use of their excess property. The land in question starts behind the church parsonage and extends north to Sunrise Highway. It will likely be subdivided into three separate parcels at some point, Ms. Hertel said, before being put up for sale.

The church properties also fall within a residential zone and, therefore, no variances would be required of the new owners if they want to eventually build new homes, Mr. McLauchlen previously explained. The land will be returned to the tax rolls once it changes hands, he added; religious institutions, such as churches, are exempt from property taxes.

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