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Government Waste

Lancaster Town Board non committal on possible change in police building project/location, Part II: Resident and student comments
By Lee Chowaniec
Mar 23, 2011, 10:27
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After the writer opened up the discussion on the police project and received no definitive answers a resident and two students commented on the Walden Avenue police facility renovation project and status.

Resident Dan Beutler addressed the board and voiced that it has been ten (10) years since there has been talk about replacing the Pavement Avenue NIKE Base police station. “Ten years of misrepresentations, innuendos, and we are still talking about it. When does it stop? When are we going to do something about it?”

“There is still talk that the lawsuit that some of us instated in 2003-04 delayed the renovation process, declared Beutler. Those accusations are false. At this time, I would like to see some kind of definitive timeframe given for completion of a facility instead of the board’s BS we have been hearing over the years. Taxpayers are paying the bill and we have nothing to show for it.”

Student address board

Students attend two town board meetings during the school year as part of a class requirement on civil government. Two of the students asked followed up questions on the police facility project.

Kayla Irvin commented that she knew there was a lot of controversy regarding the police facility project and wanted to know the motive behind it.

Supervisor Robert Giza answered that there was an old NIKE Base on Pavement Road that the Army used to protect against attack. When they evacuated the area, the town took over a lot of the buildings. The town moved the police force to one of the NIKE buildings. Other departments moved to the Pavement Road complex as well.

“Now when we merged the town and village police forces (2003), it compounded the crowded situation we already had," said Giza. "So we had to look for another location. We purchased the site on Walden Avenue. We did a study and the study said cost-wise the best option, location wise and size wise was the Walden Avenue building. Some residents didn’t agree so we went through a court process (2004) and we had to hire engineers to design the building.”

“For now, our offices are housed in the old building with our courts. We have the detective squad in the new building on Walden Avenue which has to be renovated. In the meantime a lot of the building codes have changed from the time we bought the building. It drove the cost up. Does that answer your question?”

Irvin asked why the old police facility on Pavement could not be added on to.

Giza: “That’s a good question. The old building on Pavement was not intended to last a long time.”

Irvin declared she had been in the Pavement Road facility and that it was in bad shape.

“But why would you build a new station when you could renovate the old building," quiped Irvin. "Our house needs renovating and we just can’t buy a new house. We have to use what we are dealt.”

Resident rebut

Dan Beutler angrily spoke out to correct what had been stated by Supervisor Giza about the court procedure. “You intimated that the court process slowed down the renovation process. At no time did that court proceeding have anything to do with the building being repaired and/or renovated. That court proceeding was based on the money used for a study and how it was used inappropriately. Don’t screw around telling people that the residents (8) who instated the lawsuit delayed the renovation process. "

Councilman Ronald Ruffino interjected that the board was advised by legal counsel that the renovation/reconstruction could not move forward because of the lawsuit.

Beutler: “Well whoever told you that was wrong.”

Ruffino: “At the time of lawsuit, when you guys were asking questions, we were told not to respond.”

Beutler: “Mr. Ruffino, this was all explained before to this board several times in the past. The lawsuit was about the money that was used to do a study after the building was already purchased. The building was bought before the study was done and where the Village of Lancaster was unaware of the building purchase. Don’t blame the residents for the delay.”

Ruffino: “We were told we could not move forward.”

Beutler: “You were informed wrong and we told you that from the get-go. I have the court records and I will produce them anytime you want.”

Second student

The question was asked by another student as why both buildings could not be used.

Supervisor Giza replied that the police and courts are two entities that work together and it’s good to have the departments close by. “A lot of the work is based on communication and you don’t want to separate them.

Comments

Beutler was spot on when he clarified that the lawsuit had nothing whatsoever to do with the renovation delay of the Walden Avenue building. Supervisor Giza spoke on the increasing renovation costs resulting from new code requirements. Those escalating costs can only be attributed to the board's delay to act.

Supervisor Giza is spot on when he declares the courts and police facility should be near each other.

A new build was the right course of action and affordable years ago and would have been properly located on Pavement Road. Why would anyone support the purchase of a 55 year-old warehouse building and want to spend another $8 million to renovate only 40,000 square feet of a 76,000 square foot building in the first place?

The town purchased a white elephant eight years ago, grossly underestimated the cost of renovation from the beginning of the project and will somehow find a way to blame residents for their shortsightedness and any extra costs that will be associated with adding to the $8 million bond already in place.

Eight years almost to the day since the purchase of the Walden Avenue Colecraft building and when we ask what the status is of the renovation all we hear is “we are working on it.”

As someone used to say, “The town creates the problem, the taxpayers complain, then the town blames the taxpayer.”
The police deserve better, the taxpayer deserves better!

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