Cost of barn raising sends city back to drawing board

Efforts to reconstruct a 19th century barn adjacent to the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum have been stalled by financial issues.

While $2.5 million had been set aside to pay a general contractor to rebuild the barn as a visitor’s center for the venerable homestead, the lowest bid made by contractors interested in snagging the project came in at $3.2 million, according to Meghan Lalor, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, who told this paper that the agency was “currently investigating options of redesigning the barn to trim the budget on this project.”

Additional funding, out of a total of $4.95 million allocated for the project, would be utilized for other aspects of the reconstruction, including HVAC, electric service and plumbing, Lalor said.

“It’s amazing, when the economy starts to improve, the cost of goods and services go up,” noted Byron Saunders, the museum’s executive director, during the February meeting of Community Board 17.

Nonetheless, Saunders demonstrated a can-do attitude regarding the long-awaited addition to the museum. The project, which has been in the works since 2002, is “shovel-ready,” he told board members gathered at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 395 Lenox Road, expressing optimism that it would get back on track.

The Parks Department and the Historic House Trust, Saunders stressed, “are working” to advance the project. In addition, he said, local legislators “have made sure the funds are in place to make sure this project moves forward. We’re not waiting. The politicians have told me, this is a $6 million project, and we need to make sure there are $6 million worth of community events in this barn when it’s built.”

In the meantime, “the heavy timber frame Dutch style barn… is currently in storage in New Jersey,” Lalor said in an email.

There is strong need for the addition, she noted, given that the old farmhouse is “already at its programming capacity given the space constraints of the historic house.”

Besides incorporating a visitor’s center, the barn will house an education center, administrative offices, a caretaker apartment, small greenhouse and gallery space, Lalor said.

The landmarked Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, the oldest building in New York City, is located at 5816 Clarendon Road in East Flatbush.