Pay now or pay later: Genesee County legislators discover pain of later
Monday's Public Services meeting seemed a little too familiar for some Genesee County legislators.
In fact, there was a sense of “déjà vu,” Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said.
Highway Superintendent Tim Hens was reviewing a potential project for repairs at the Genesee Justice site at 14 West Main St., Batavia. The building’s porch and stone foundation was especially in need of work, he said.
“This is exactly the same conversation we had in 2016,” Clattenburg said during the meeting at the Old Courthouse. “At least two or three times we tried to get grants.”
Because of the site’s historical value, a different set of legislators -- including Clattenburg and Shelley Stein -- had agreed to pursue landmark preservation funding to pay for the repair and restoration work, Clattenburg said.
She and current Legislative Chairwoman Stein each remarked how familiar the whole discussion, and Tim Hens’ request to award a bid, was for them. Only this time — instead of an initial estimate of just under $500,000, the cost is now at nearly $1.8 million, more than three times than what was originally quoted.
“We should be kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner, but we didn’t have the money,” Stein said.
The real kicker was that Legislator Christian Yunker was questioning the very same things that others had questioned back then, the women said. He wanted to know more details about the scope and large expense for the project.
The people in those very same chairs years ago also asked such questions, and in the end they didn’t feel it was the right time for this project, Clattenburg said.
There has been a “tremendous amount of damage” that, along with inflation, tripled the initial price estimate, Hens said. There are pieces of stone falling from the top of the porch, and many areas of it are cracked and crumbling.
Yet, as Legislator Gary Maha observed, “it’s got to be done.”
Although it’s a costly bit of work, “it will look like it does now,” Hens said.
“We just won’t have anybody getting knocked on the head,” he said.
The group voted to move the project forward, which involves awarding a construction bid to Montante Construction in the amount of $1,468,100, and authorizing the Genesee County treasurer to amend capital project Facilities Management in the same amount.
That $1.46 million is to be paid from the Building and Equipment Reserve of the Jail that’s also housed in the same building. The total cost of this project is $1,769,510, which is funded by the county’s 1 percent sales tax and the Building and Equipment (Jail) Reserve.
A vote of six to one carried the motion on to the Ways & Means Committee for further discussion and approval. Yunker was the lone no vote.
“I’m seeing this for the first time. I’m having a hard time with it,” he said.
Photos: Costly masonry repair and restoration of the Genesee Justice building at 14 Main St., Batavia comes with a pricier estimate more than three times the original cost quoted to Genesee County legislators six years ago.
Photos by Howard Owens.