Within days, the Town of Batavia will complete the purchase of 19 acres of land from the City of Batavia ostensibly to clear the way for a new courts facility.
The facility, the story line has gone, would enable the Town of Batavia to merge court functions with the towns of Oakfield and Elba.
What has been little known while this process has gone forward is that neither Oakfield nor Elba ever agreed to such a court consolidation.
In fact, the Oakfield Town Board voted several months ago to reject court consolidation with Batavia.
As for Elba, the board has never taken action to either approve or disapprove consolidation, but the town did apply for and receive a $10,000 state grant to remodel its court bench a year ago and invested another $5,000 of town money in other courtroom upgrades.
Greg Post, supervisor for the Town of Batavia, said that two years ago, when the project was first proposed, there was more momentum behind the idea of consolidation, but over time the other towns have shifted gears.
It's not even a project, he said, that he's paid much attention to recently.
"It's off the top of the pile of my (to-do) list," Post said. "I have a fire district contract to deal with, a budget, infrastructure issues, Alpina coming in. This is something that will be considered in time, but I have other projects to deal with."
Although it's not at the top of Post's to-do list, it is apparently high on the town attorney's list.
On Tuesday, Batavia City Manager Jason Moliono said he had spoke with the town's attorney that day.
"I've been corresponding with the attorney and everything seems to be in place for us to sign the purchase agreement in the next couple of days and then proceed to escrow," Molino said.
The town is paying $150,000 for the property and one of the conditions of the purchase is that the town build a $140,000 sidewalk on Park Road and Richmond Avenue.
At a time when the idea of consolidation between the town and city is still, at least technically, an unresolved issue, City Council President Marianne Clattenburg -- the only council member to vote against selling the 19 acres to the town -- questions why the project has proceeded as far as it has.
She had no idea until Tuesday evening that neither Oakfield nor Elba had signed off on a court consolidation proposal.
"The wise course of action is to put these plans on hold until the citizens vote on consolidation," Clattenburg said. "Why expend any amount of dollars on this until then?"
The city has a fairly new court in the Genesee County Court building on at 10 W. Main St.
Post said that with or without consolidation, the town needs a new court facility. The current Town Hall, opened about seven years ago, is running out of office space, Post said.
The town board considered expanding the building, but decided it made more sense to build a new court facility.
"I feel strongly that unless something has changed that I don't know about, we will need to expand space for our courts and it would be beneficial for our communities," Post said.
About the time the town was making its decision to build a new court facility, Post said he heard that Oakfield and Elba had talked about consolidating. He said it made sense to offer those towns the opportunity to move its courts to the new town court building.
In this same time period, Post said, he heard the chamber of commerce was looking for a new facility, so space was offered to the chamber as well.
The site selected is bounded on two sides by Park Road and just west of Oak Street. It's a wetlands area with an open pond popular with ducks and geese that is nearly hidden from view and hard for people to access. The city acquired the land from the federal government in 1968 and in order to get approval from the Veterans Administration to buy the land, the town had to agree to protect and mitigate the wetlands and build the sidewalks on Park and Richmond.
"We elected to make the purchase and offer the facility up to other communities as an opportunity," Post said.
While Oakfield Town Supervisor Micheal Cianfrini believes town court consolidation is likely and even beneficial, Oakfield, he said, will not consolidate with Batavia.
He said the town board decided Batavia wasn't a good fit with Oakfield. It would make more sense, he said, to consolidate with towns closer to Oakfield's size, such as Alabama and Elba.