posted on August 17, 2011 21:41
IMAGE: The wooded parcel shown off Park Rd. will be developed for a new court building and park.
"Moving at the speed of government" is a favorite phrase of Batavia Town Supervisor Greg Post.
Tonight's Town Council meeting was a prime example of Post's brand of "speed": after three years, the Town was finally able to approve a resolution to purchase 19 acres of property on Park Road, to build a new court facility.
"This idea was actually born in a staff meeting in this building, four years ago," says Post. Town Council members in 2007 proposed a merger of the Elba, Oakfield, and Batavia Town courts, believing it would save money on prisoner transports, District Attorney's travels, and utilities for all three municipalities. The court building was to be built on an unused parcel along Park Road in the City of Batavia, which the Town agreed to purchase.
However, under state statute, that piece of land could not be used to consolidate municipal courts. So the Town contacted their local representative. In 2008, newly-elected Senator Michael Ranzenhofer held a high-profile news conference, announcing the easement legislation he was taking to Albany.
And then everything stalled in the Albany gridlock – for two years. Finally, the legislation was passed in 2010, according to Post. And after more extensive delays, the purchase was approved tonight. It now goes to the Batavia City Council, where Post expects the sale will be approved for $150,000.
"I would consider it a victory for the people," says Post. "The only thing that we have any control over is what we can do in our communities. And I think it's attractive for supervisors, like myself, to share in the expense of mandates for our courts." Post predicts the building will save tens of millions of dollars for each of the towns and the county over the course of several years.
Under federal statute, the Town will be required to install a sidewalk along Park Road, add directional signage, and revitalize a pond on the property. The Town plans to go several steps further, stocking the pond for fishing and installing "nature trail"-type sidewalks for veterans at the nearby VA Hospital. The Town will also rent building space to the Chamber of Commerce for a tourist visitor's center.
"One of the first things (visitors off the nearby I-90) will see is a park-like setting, with a clean municipal building, and a visitor's center," Post says. "It seems like a win-win deal for everybody."
Total cost for the additional improvements is estimated at $150,000.
Once the city approves the sale, Town engineers hope to begin some demolition and landscaping on the parcel before the snow flies this year.