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November 22, 2021 - 9:55pm

ken-pearl-intro_1.pngThe Batavia City Council is looking at enlisting a “Pearl” to assist in its quest to build a gem of a police headquarters in the heart of the community’s downtown.

Council, at its meeting at City Hall tonight, passed one resolution and forwarded two others to its Dec. 13 Business Meeting that highlight the importance of Kenneth Pearl, president and principal-in-charge of Architecture Unlimited, LLC, of Williamsville, to the construction of what is expected to be a $10.8 million police station at Bank Street and Alva Place.

According to City Manager Rachael Tabelski, upon Council’s final approval, Pearl (photo above) would act as the “project manager/owner’s representative” for the police facility project.

She introduced a resolution that would pay Pearl’s company $370,000 for professional services and project management over the life of the project, which could take up to 3 ½ years.

Pearl and the city have quite a history as he has assisted the Department of Public Works with the City Centre Mall Roof, Mall Roof 2, Police Roof and Police Facility Feasibility Study projects.

Tabelski noted that Pearl is an expert in architecture and construction management, having worked with other municipalities in the construction of new buildings.

Pearl has coordinated the city's issuance of Requests for Proposals for the design and engineering of the new police facility. The RFP review and interview process is taking place and expected to be complete sometime next month.

A second resolution pertaining to the police station, which also will be voted upon next month, is to authorize a general obligation bond and issuance of a bond anticipation note for $1.5 million to finance the cost of design, engineering and architecture plans.

This amount would be part of the $10.8 million (it could be more due to fluctuating construction costs) to build the single-story structure that would enable the police department to vacate the former Historic Brisbane Mansion at 10 West Main St., a building that is more than 160 years old and in need of costly renovation.

Tabelski said the city would not be obligated to pay anything for up to a year and eventually could roll the $1.5 million into the 30-year bond that will be utilized to pay for the new police headquarters.

“I’m confident the city can absorb the bond (expense) into the future,” she said.

The third resolution -- the one that passed tonight -- approves a contract for $3,250 with Wm. Schutt & Associates, P.C., of Lancaster to conduct a land survey of the Bank and Alva parcel.

“The survey area includes the city’s public parking lot and specifically the southeast corner of the lot immediately adjacent to Bank Street and Alva Place,” Tabelski said. “The survey will provide boundary lines, a legal description, zoning, right-of-way’s, elevations, location size and depth of water, sewer, gas and other utilities on the site.”

CSEA APPROVES SIX-YEAR CONTRACT

On another front, City Council approved a six-year contract with its Civil Service Employees Association union after reaching a tentative agreement on Oct. 21 and ratification by CSEA members on Nov. 15. The previous contract expired on March 31.

The new pact with the CSEA, which has 18 professional members (clerks, secretaries, code enforcement officials, water and wastewater plant chief operators, and Bureau of Maintenance supervisors), lists the following provisions:

  • Salary increase of 2.5 percent each year for the length of the contract;
  • A longevity increase of $100 per year at the 20-year point;
  • Limit of carryover of vacation time to one week;
  • Adding the option to cash in sick time (currently employees can defer into their 457 plan);
  • Increase in employee health care contribution by 3 percent of the term of the contract;
  • Removal of the financial clerk typist from the union to non-union status.

Tabelski said that the annual impact upon the city budget will be $34,500, including retirement and Social Security).

Previously: City Council looking at 30-year, $10 million bond to finance new police station at Alva and Bank

June 14, 2021 - 10:19pm

police_1.jpg

After years and years of studies, citizen task force recommendations and broken promises to City of Batavia police officers, the Batavia City Council may be ready to pull the trigger on construction of a new $10.8 million police headquarters on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street.

Lawmakers, during a Special Conference Meeting tonight at City Hall Council Board Room, listened to a presentation of a City of Batavia Police Station Feasibility Study – hearing from Kenneth Pearl, president of Architecture Unlimited LLC, of Williamsville; City Manager Rachael Tabelski, and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch on what it would take to finally move its law enforcement personnel out of the 160-year-old Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St.

“This has been going on so long that now we’re spending $10 million for a building that if we would have built this six, eight, 10 years ago when we were talking about it, it would have been a few million – three, maybe four (million),” said City Council President Eugene Jankowski, a retired city police officer who is well aware of the poor conditions at the current station.

“Every time they (apparently referring to past City Councils) wanted to come up with a price, they would decide to spend tens of thousands of dollars on another study, and they would turn right around and try to say let’s merge, let’s eliminate, let’s become one police department. There wasn’t public support for that; there wasn’t availability to make that happen. It wasn’t feasible and it wasn’t cost-effective to do that.”

Jankowski said that the city abandoning its police force – putting that responsibility on Genesee County – would be unwise.

“I’ve lived in the city and I expect to have a policeman and a fireman nearby when I need one, if my house is on fire or if I’m in trouble … we need our police department,” he added.

Pearl reported that If City Council is indeed serious about building a new home for its police department, it is going to cost $10 million or more, depending on when they build due to the unstable construction climate.

His analysis indicates that the $10.8 million cost of a 19,000-square-foot building, complete with enclosed parking for more than 30 cars, would break down as follows:

  • Batavia Police Department Building -- $6,270,000;
  • Site Work – Building Project, $570,000;
  • Site Work – Public Parking Modification, $660,000;
  • Site Environmental Contingency -- $500,000;
  • Contingency at 10 percent -- $800,000;
  • Professional Fees – A/E/Survey/Geotech -- $880,000;
  • Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment -- $650,000;
  • Professional Fees -- $390,000;
  • Project Expenses -- $80,000.

Should City Council decide to add a secure parking roof structure – a steel roof with no walls or heat -- that would add another $2.65 million to the price tag. Pearl’s report listed that feature as an alternative, along with the installment of an eight-inch water main to replace the current four-inch water main, and a Bank Street improvement public infrastructure program to include traffic calming and pedestrian safety enhancements.

As far as paying for the facility, Tabelski proposed a $10 million improvement serial bond with a 30-year term, noting that annual payments would range from $425,000 to $507,000 for principal and interest.

She said the city, by 2025, could absorb debt payments of $570,000, adding that in the next three years, debt from an energy lease, tandem axle municipal lease and the Enterprise Resource Planning software system will be off the books.

“While there will not be room for other borrowing in the general fund, by 2033, City Hall principal and interest payments will be reduced by $164,000 and by 2036, the entire debt will be paid on City Hall,” she said.

Tabelski said she will be looking for grants in an attempt to drop the amount needed to borrow under $10 million.

Heubusch advised Council of the conditions at the current police station, mentioning a 50-year-old boiler system, deteriorating walls, leaky roof, cramped quarters, lack of air conditioning and inconsistent heating.

In fact, the roof is in such disrepair that Council tonight passed a resolution to spend $100,000 from the municipality’s facility reserve fund to replace the flat portion of the 30-year old roof.

An analysis of that building showed that the flat roof portions above the rear vestibule and the rear addition require a full replacement. Currently, the roof is leaking into the conference room, locker rooms, detective offices and women’s and men’s bathrooms.

Pearl said he considered “four basic criteria” as he evaluated the possibility of a police station at Alva and Bank:

  1. “Could we save an adequate amount of public parking that could still be used by its neighboring businesses?”
  2. “Could we create enough secure parking within the wall or fence system for the police department itself?”
  3. “How much underground public infrastructure are we going to have to deal with (pipes, utilities under the parking lot)?”
  4. “And if we leave ourselves enough options after all that to go through a design and engineering process, would a viable project come out of it for the building itself?

Later on, he answered those questions affirmatively, stating that through substantial reconstruction about 115 public parking spots will remain in the lot with plenty of street parking available as well, and that there will be ample parking for police and other vehicles within the compound, next to the one-story facility.

He reported that basic elements of the project are a secure wall and gates, secure infrastructure (including an outdoor generator), storage space, open or covered parking and K-9 accommodation.

“Picture an L-shaped roof … what that allows us to do is create a public entry right here at Alva and Bank, which maximizes the public roadways,” he said. “Something that makes sense. You have the dedicated, primary entrance … you do not have that now.”

He said that police interaction with the community would be at the front of the building while operations and security would be placed toward the back.

Pearl’s report reveals the interior of the building will have a dedicated public entry space, front desk space, administrative offices, detective bureau, patrol offices and training rooms, emergency response team room, technical services areas (firearms, evidence storage, laboratory), accessory functions (locker rooms, break room, garage), interior infrastructure and community space.

Exterior spaces will include a public entry approach, flagpole, memorial area, landscaping, parking spots, generator, transformer, storage barn and K-9 lawn area.

Although he said the architectural and engineering process to get to this point has been complicated, the end result is that placing a building in the public parking lot “is a good option.”

“From a technical perspective, I’m very confident in saying that,” he said.

Pearl said construction could be complete by the end of 2023, but the current pricing would hold only if it went to bid within a year. He called the construction industry topsy-turvy right now, making it difficult to estimate costs.

To illustrate, he said the $8.8 million cost of just a 19,000-square-foot building (without fees and expenses) would have cost $5.7 million just three and a half years ago.

Going forward, Tabelski said the next steps would be putting out a request for proposal to architecture and engineering firms in September for design and surveying work, and then going back to City Council for contract approval/execution and a vote on final bond resolution around December.

City Council Member Al McGinnis was part of the City Police Task Force that worked on finding suitable locations for a new police headquarters about six years ago. He said that a lot of time and effort was spent by the committee and to see that nothing has changed is beyond disappointment.

"The fact that we have put our police through this for the past 20 years, 30 years is amazing," he said. "It violates just about every code you have for a police station. ... We talk, we talk, we talk and when we get done, we talk again. We kicked this can down the road. There's no more road and there's no more can. We have to do something."

lot_1.jpg

Architectural sketches -- Top, the proposed City of Batavia Police Department headquarters at Alva Place and Bank Street (building in red with parking lot in purple); Bottom, parking lot showing 34 spaces for vehicles plus room for cars next to the building. A storage shed (orange) and K-9 area (green) are at left.

November 8, 2020 - 3:09pm

As a Williamsville architectural firm conducts a feasibility study on the construction of a new Batavia Police Department headquarters on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street, a representative of the Genesee Country Farmers’ Market continues to seek an “open dialogue” with City Council on the future of the seasonal produce business.

In 2020, the privately owned market, which has been at several locations over the past 15 years, conducted business on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from June 5 through Oct. 30 on the Downtown lot across the street from the City Centre Mall.

The market has been a hot topic of discussion in recent days following Market Manager Elizabeth “Betty” Carr’s public comments at City Council’s Oct. 26 meeting. At the meeting, Carr asked city leaders to reconsider its decision to build a new police station on the Alva Place parking lot.

Since then, although no formal meeting between farmers’ market board members and City Council has taken place, the open dialogue that Carr was hoping for has come in the form of remarks on the website of The Batavian and its Facebook page.

On one side, there is City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. consistently stating the municipality’s position that since the city already owns the Alva Place lot – which was deemed the No. 2 choice by a police facility task force that met in 2015 – erecting a new police facility there would result in a significant cost savings.

The first choice, a parcel on Swan Street, was not a city-owned property. When city leaders inquired about its availability, they were told it was not for sale.

While no official budgetary figures have been released (that will happen at the conclusion of the feasibility study by Architecture Unlimited LLC, of Williamsville), previous cost estimates were in the $9 million to $12 million range. City officials are hopeful that the building they are proposing will cost less than that based on similar completed projects in the Town of Clarence and Town of Greece.

Jankowski: City Saves Money as Property Owner

“Here’s the thing about the farmers’ market,” Jankowski said. “We’re saving $500,000 by building the station on our own property. The farmers’ market manager in her emails and in her comments on Facebook, which some of them were out of line, is expecting us to just give them a $500,000 value or more lot in the middle of town. We’ve already been given a walkability study that says we have too many parking lots. Those lots were designed for buildings to be put there.”

Jankowski said Carr is advocating for the city give to the market taxpayer-funded property at no charge.

“And I don’t know who is going to pay for the building they want to put on there. I’m thinking she expects the city to pay for the building as well,” he said. “She wants us to build and give her a piece of property, and then we need to go buy another piece of property, take that off the tax rolls and build our police station on some third, fourth or fifth choice that we can come up with so she can have the farmers’ market there.”

On the other side is Carr, who said she is simply looking for City Council to allow directors of the farmers’ market to present pertinent information about the markets’ customer base and nutritional needs in an era of COVID-19.

“Mr. Jankowski says we are taking a hard line? The only hard line is that this was dictated to us,” she said. “We were never in agreement and we were never asked to have a conversation. We were told from day one that we would have to move.”

Carr said that Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski informed market officials that they could stay in their current location through 2021.

“It always was with the intent that we would have to move, which is why I spoke in front of City Council and asked for open dialogue, so we could talk about this,” Carr said. “And I was shocked at how Mr. Jankowski handled himself the next day. He printed lies. He said that we’re trying to steal property from the city and that we were already in agreement to this move.”

Carr Takes Exception to Facebook Post

She also said that Jankowski insulted (Farmers’ Market Treasurer) Sharon Brent, posting a Facebook comment that read “How can anyone buy from this woman?”

“We have no idea how that has hurt her business, and she has been in her business for 45 years,” Carr said.

A review of the numerous statements on The Batavian’s Facebook page reveals that Jankowski’s actual post was as follows: “The market is now demanding the city turn over that property to them for permanent use for free. It’s very disappointing that the market is trying to steal a piece of property from the taxpayers valued at over $500,000. After this behavior who would want to do business with them at this point?”

Carr admitted that the farmers’ market has no right to dictate city policy, but at least should be respected enough -- considering that it does bring people and revenue to Batavia – to be invited to the table to talk about its fate.

“The city has never had any conversation with us,” she said. “We are a bunch of farmers. I’m new to the market. Who are we to say we want the city to build a building for us? Who is saying that? We are not.”

As far as the feasibility study is concerned, Public Works Director Matt Worth said he has sent utility and survey information, and boundaries and dimensions of the Alva Place lot to the architectural firm, while architects have made some on-site visits and are reviewing operations of the existing police facility – the 165-year-old former Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St.

“We’re pretty much on the front end of it. We’re in the information gathering process, I would say at this point,” said Worth, who expects the study to take another six months or so.

Worth: Feasibility Study is Determining Factor

Worth said the feasibility study will determine the configuration of the facility – one- or two-story, shape, provisions for parking, etc. – and is anticipating a price point that fits within the city’s plans to finance it over a 20- to 30-year period.

“We’ll have a really good idea once this is done. The original task force numbers were very conceptual and we didn’t have a lot of confidence that it was going to be that costly,” he said. “And that’s really where we made the connection with Architecture Unlimited. They were involved with a state police/sheriff’s facility that was built in the Town of Clarence, and so we were able to get some numbers that they had for that as well as the new police facility that was built in the Town of Greece.

“Looking at those and how the building could be configured, it became apparent that it seemed like it could be done for quite a bit less than that and make it more affordable.”

Worth said the feasibility study is costing the city $41,200.

Carr, when advised that the feasibility study was underway, said that was “new information” to her and questioned if Batavia residents were on board with such a long-term financial commitment.

“I’m not sure if the citizens want a police station there or if they really want a police station,” she offered. “It could be that citizens want to revisit how they’re tax dollars are to be used … and judging from comments on Facebook and The Batavian comments, about the location of the police department and if it is necessary.”

She then asked how city leaders set their priorities.

“Then I would ask of the city, during this feasibility study, what’s their measurement of success? In other words, who are they serving? Are they going to do something that’s going to ... how do they determine what best serves the citizens? They’ve got the farmers’ market.”

Would Relocation Affect Business?

Carr did agree that the current police headquarters is inadequate, but said that placing a new one would on the Alva Place lot would devastate the farmers’ market.

“If the market moved to Angotti’s (Beverage Corp.) parking lot on School Street … well, 73 percent of our customers walk or bike and (right now) no one crosses Main Street or Ellicott Street. You might as well put us on an island, all by ourselves,” she said.

“Seventy-three percent of our customers may not come because they’d have to cross those busy streets. Senior citizens with their walkers and motorized scooters – they’re not going to cross those busy streets. And we’d be that much farther removed from other customers we currently serve, such as the employees of the hospital and the YMCA.”

Jankowski said a new headquarters for the Batavia Police Department is long overdue.

“The facility is not proper right now – we know that – and it’s falling apart,” he said. “We need a building on our own property and we need a building where we can save money.”

The retired City of Batavia police officer then pointed out some of the problems with the current police station.

“Who is going to benefit from it? People in the community that are arrested. They’ll have a better facility to be housed in temporarily when they’re interviewed – in a proper area,” Jankowski said. “Evidence will be stored in a proper safe facility and not contaminating people with the fumes coming off it. You’ve got blood evidence, you’ve got drug evidence. That stuff is locked in an old safe now; there’s no ventilation in there. When those guys (police officers) walk in there, they’re taking a breath and inhaling that stuff. It can’t be healthy.”

Current Police Station is Lacking

Jankowski said the city has to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.

“We’re not making this stuff up,” he said. “When you’re a victim of a crime or domestic abuse, we have a safe place to go and you’re not being yelled at by your abuser because you’re in the same room and there’s a door there and he’s yelling through the window at you.”

The council president said he has received no complaints from the public until “Ms. Carr gets hired by the farmers’ market and now she is demanding that we turn over this lot to them at no charge and create a permanent place for the market.”

“I love the market … but nobody said it was a permanent deal. It was land that was not being used and we said, ‘Sure, you can use it temporarily.’ I do know that when they were moved there, it was not my impression that they were moved there permanently.”

Jankowski said the city would like to help them find another location, preferably close to downtown. He also said the farmers’ market has the option to purchase city-owned property at the fair market rate and erect its own structure, adding that nonprofits such as Genesee/Orleans Council on Substance Abuse and Alcoholism and YMCA invest their own money to construct their own buildings.

He suggested moving it behind the YMCA.

“They’re going to be having a big wellness thing there (Healthy Living campus) and maybe the best place is to move across the street and be right behind the Y,” he said. “We’re trying to help them find a location, but from what I’m told, they want the place they’re at now and nothing we offer is acceptable to them at this point. Personally, the way they’re acting, I have lost interest in the farmers’ market being there even another year.”

Who are the Bullies in This Situation?

While Jankowski contends the farmers’ market is trying to “bully” the city, Carr said it is the other way around.

“We are being bullies by asking for conversation? A bully is someone who dictates terms and that’s what the city is doing to us. We’re in a totally reactive position. We have no clout,” she said.

Carr said she seeks to inform Council members of information that needs to be considered.

“I’m bringing to their attention a New York State Field & Fork survey that shows groundswell that that area is the perfect location for the market – as 73 percent of the customers are able to walk and bike (to get there),” she said. “In addition, in 2018 across the nation was the beginning of a movement (that) everyone wants more local produce from their farmers’ markets. And just recently, USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) issued an RFI (request for information) stating that by the year 2050, 40 percent of all locally grown produce must come from locally grown in order to reduce the carbon footprint by 50 percent.”

She also said that people need to be educated on the relationship between COVID-19 and healthy eating.

“How can you make decisions with such game-changing facts in front of you based on data that’s five years out of date?” she asked. “COVID is the game-changer here. It’s a known fact that eating more produce increases your immunity and it’s from only your locally grown produce where you get optimal nutrition. These changes are taking place and they have been going on for quite a while and you’ve missed this data.”

Carr said directors of the farmers’ market plan to meet on Nov. 16 to discuss their options, mentioning that she has reached out to Congressman Chris Jacobs to see if he could assist in helping them to locate some funding independent of the city.

“As far as the farmers’ market and the reception that the farmers’ market received, including Mr. Jankowski slamming our lead farmer, why wouldn’t we just pack up and move to Batavia Downs or get someone to underwrite us and go elsewhere?” she asked. “What’s the point in staying Downtown because the city doesn’t want us there? They’ve been kicking us around, year to year, going on the 12th time in the course of 15 years, without conversation. Does that seem right?”

Previously: Farmers' market treasurer provides information in response to City Council's queries

Previously: Farmers' Market manager asks Council to reconsider placing new police station on Alva Place lot

Previously: Placement of 'nomadic' Genesee Country Farmers' Market is up in the air once more

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