Is this really another feasibility study or something else?
From SUWNY Front Page:
Back to the future for Walden Avenue warehouse renovation for police and courts facility; Part: I
By Lee Chowaniec
Like Phoenix rising from the ashes, the 3949 Walden Avenue warehouse building purchased in March of 2003 to house the merged Lancaster Town and Village police forces, and dubbed the “white elephant” by the “you guys” (regular board attendees), will undergo another feasibility study to determine whether renovation costs to house the police and courts is fiscally responsible.
Sounds like a feasibility study, Ron Ruffino states that it is.
The resolution sponsored by Councilmember Ron Ruffino continues to “evaluate the feasibility of converting the Walden Avenue warehouse property into a police and courts facility...
Provision of services in relation to the renovation? Maybe it's not a feasibility study.
...and commissions the Town to receive qualification submittals from qualified firms for the provision of architectural and engineering services in relation to the renovation...
What exactly is the intent and purpose of this resolution?
...Town officials are authorized to do all things necessary to effectuate the intent and purpose of the resolution.”
Now that would actually be a feasibility study, wouldn't it?
Councilman Dan Amatura cast the lone dissenting vote declaring that the resolution leaves out a feasibly study for alternatives – namely, a new facility at the current Pavement Road site.
Was this building even appraised when it was first purchased, or was a price just agreed upon between two parties and other peoples' money just spent on a whim? One would think that an appraisal done a few years ago would be fairly accurate a few years later. Let's see it and actually dtermine what a wise decision was made to purchase this mistake in the first place.
For the past year, it had been suggested by some town officials and numerous residents that the Walden Avenue building was a poor investment that should be sold and a new one built. In recent months, the board was one in favoring having the building appraised, put up for bid and sold. What changed?
These same people have been advocating for a new building for some time. The costs of a new building compared to the one built in 1964 should be fairly in line with each other when factoring in that repairs will probably be frequent on an older building as they already are today.
Town Board work session minutes
Supervisor Robert Giza declared that some people have accused the board of dragging its feet on putting up a police building. “These same people will be complaining about the taxes going up if we do something.”
Yeah, that's it, it was opposed when looking at the grossly underestimated renovation costs as determined by a feasibility study (that one and the one that followed when the numbers were too high on the first one were actually feasibility studies, you know the kind, the ones that anyone versed in business would have performed before spending over 1.5 million dollars of other peoples' money). But then again, we're not talking about anything inappropriate here, just bad governance (a judge's words, not mine). Yet now the bad governors are moving forward once again, it's just got a new cheerleader this time.
Whoa, big fella! These same “you guys” (labeled regulars, obstructionists, cave dwellers, etc.) accepted the fact years ago that a new police facility was needed for the newly combined town and village police forces. The “you guys” objected to the manner in which the Walden Avenue Colecraft warehouse building was purchased, the condition and aesthetics of the building and the initial grossly underestimated renovation costs projected by the Supervisor.
But that would actually make it a feasibility study instead of looking for someone to renovate.
The “you guys” have favored building a smaller, state of the art police building on town-owned property on Pavement Road. The “you guys” are as equally disturbed as Amatura that the town is not going to consider a feasibility study for another option.
Taxes go up every year in Lancaster, so what's the big deal. Would it despoil the "savings" from the police merger? Would it expose that we overpaid for a building that was unwisely purchased?
Supervisor Giza pointed out that he wanted to do the water line project (now in progress), but was hesitant in doing it because he didn’t want to raise taxes. But wanting to protect our homes and businesses (firefighting with low water pressure) he did it.
A different subject, but it's still pretty interesting how things happen here in relation to their stated need by our "bad governors".
Well, truth be told the supervisor and the former Town Engineer told residents complaining about home low water pressure issues and firefighting low water pressure issues were told they didn’t know what they were talking about.
Danny A has been doing pretty good here lately. Anyone else noticing that a lot of the good things and long needed things happening lately seem to be associated with him?
Thanks to councilmember Amatura and present Town Engineer Robert Harris those water line issues are being addressed and in a manner and over time where the taxpayers are not seeing a noticeable tax increase.
And then after the purchase was made, it was determined to be too costly. Does Ruffino really think that the costs are going to go down instead of up? If we are now doing the renovations solely because it was the original intent, we are now witnessing another prime example of "bad governance". Personally, anyone that would fight to spend $30,000 on a bell should not be looked as qualified to initiate any kind of business contract for services that will total in the millions of dollars.
Amatura asked why the resolution was not written to include a new build as well as the renovation to the Walden Avenue building? Ruffino responded that the building had been purchased with the intent to renovate it.
Actually taking the proper steps to initiate the sale process might be wise in trying to make a sale. Maybe we should look up all of the other "interested parties" that the Supervisor spoke of in making his hasty decision to purchase the building in the first place.
He added that they thought they could sell it at one time and look at another option, but the sale didn’t take place. “If we would have sold it, a new build would have been an option.”
Yes, they did. I heard it myself. It's been written about many times on this message board.
Amatura replied, “I thought we all agreed to put the building up for bid.
Maybe they're realizing that putting this diamond in the rough up for sale might expose the mistake that it really was. When you total up what has been spent so far, it's impossible to make this up by selling the building. Not a really good idea in an election year is it Ron?
We now have probably $2.5 million stuck in this building. Giza interjected that they paid $1.6 million for the building and we put some roof repairs... “Yeah but the last study say we need a new roof on the building and that would be another $500,000 and we have been paying on the debt, $90,000 per year. I think in total it’s going to cost us more money than to erect a new police building. We need a new building, but we only need to build a 30,000 square foot building and we need to go cheaper (not with all the bells and whistles).
Amatura could have added into that cost the heating / energy / maintenance costs for the building since 2003 and lost tax revenues once the town took ownership (approximately $50,000 per year times 5 years).
It's a shame that these parties weren't there the first time to set a good example of sound business practices for the home team.
Ruffino (and later Giza) claimed that there were parties interested in purchasing the building, but then “they walked away”.
There's Danny A saying the right thing again.
Amatura responded that they did not follow through on their assurance to the public that they would get the building appraised, have it put up for bid, and build a new one on town owned property on Pavement Road for about $7 million. “Do we need a 76,000 square foot building and to throw that kind of money in an old building when we can build a new police station on the same property the court building sits on? I would like to see a proposal that considers both, the renovation of the Walden Avenue building and a new build. (It was never considered and/or voted on)
There's the original intent thing again. This town has a really hard time admitting to mistakes.
Ruffino interjected that the Walden Avenue building was purchased with the intent to renovate it. “Why don’t we say we made a mistake and move on,” said Amatura?
Ruffino countered that everyone at the time of purchase thought it was the right thing to do and now board members and the Chief of police say we should go with the original plan. “If we sold it, we could have looked at building a new one. But I’m not going to build a new one and then try to sell the old one.”
Wait a minute here. I like that statement, "But I'm not going to build a new one and then try to sell the old one." Is Ruffino taking the helm here and calling this fiasco his own? Neat! The Supervisor must be smiling from ear to ear.
But that would actually make sense. Can't do that.
“But we haven’t tried to sell the building,” replied Amatura. “That’s the point I’m making.”
And it's a closer location for the officers to pick up their fellow officers when they take them back and forth to work. Hey, the Supervisor needed a new SUV because he wasn't going to use his vehicle in the nasty snow, why should these guys. What's good for the goose...
Mars to Ruffino, hello, you haven’t made a formal attempt to sell the building. Judge Dwan told the board over a year ago to sell it build a new one and move on. The “you guys” have been bugging the town on this for months.)
"Well, I don’t know who have been talking to about this, but the guys in the police department are all for this," declared Ruffino. "And, since we merged with the Village police, Walden Avenue is a better site,” added Ruffino.
Danny A needs to save his breath at this point. Rational thinking does not exist in the Town Chambers.
Supervisor Giza interjected that if it doesn’t work out they could always go to plan B.
“Plan B, we should be doing it now and compare apples to apples,” replied Amatura.
A pistol range is basically four walls and a counter with a few lockers. Couldn't one of the existing buildings on the Pavement parcel be easily and inexpensively converted to such a structure if a new facility was erected on the Pavement Road site?
Supervisor Giza added that there were a lot of things you could do with this building. “Right now our cars are out in the open. Here, you can bring them inside, deice them and wash them. You can have a pistol range and there’s lots of room to store evidence. They got stolen boats and motorcycles inside, etc.”
Maybe we should sell all of the boats and motorcycles to help defray the costs. Isn't that what happens to impounded materials? But then again, it has been long rumored that town employees were storing personal materials in there, I've even heard of boats and motorcycles. One easy way to find out...announce an impound sale and see if there's anything left to sell. That's a good idea.
Note to self: Call Ron Ruffino.
Are there really that many boats and motorcycles stolen in Lancaster to keep a never ending inventory? Why not just give them back to their rightful owners? They have serial numbers and things so it can't be too hard to find out who they belong to. Did people that have boats and motorcycles stolen stop reporting them as such?
But I digress...
There must be another reval coming. Wasn't all of the development in this town supposed to add to the tax base? One would think that after the last 5 or 6 years that building a new police facility would be a cakewalk with the added revenue. Something must have gone wrong there too. Oops.
Supervisor Giza declared that he believed this was still the right thing to do and the right location for the building. “I guess when I heard the price for the renovation I was scared a little bit and thought maybe we could get something more workable, but...
Ron, quit while you're ahead.
“The first price we had for renovation was $11.5 million and the next estimate was $7.5 million for less renovation,” said Amatura. If you put the $1.6 million purchase price in with the $7.5 million, that’s $9 million. And, that was 2-3 years ago. So, what will that price be now? And when the bids come in, they will be for labor. The money is usually made on the material costs.”
Ruffino countered that the cost for a new police station years ago was estimated at $13 million.
“Yeah, but that was for a 76,000 square foot building,” said Amatura. We don’t need one that size. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. You guys do what you want. My opinion is that both options should be considered; now.”
Amatura was outvoted 4-1.
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Mark Montour- Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties candidate for Lancaster Town Justice
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“What these towns are about to do, if they have their way, is kill the goose that laid the golden egg” -Victor Martucci, vice president of Marrano Marc/Equity in response to local towns opposing the 339-y condo law.
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