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With space still an issue, legislators consider office space for sale, rent

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LOWVILLE — The day after Lewis County legislators defeated a pr oposed building project on outer Stowe Street, Legislative Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, already was in contact with CBRE, real estate broker for the Lowville Commons.

The building is for sale for $1 million and has rental space occupied by the county’s Board of Elections and Office for the Aging.

“First thing, we’re going to go over to the Commons building to make accommodations for them,” Mr. Tabolt said when asked how the county would deal with the space issues that remain now that the $10 million building has been voted down.

“We’re going to see what they need,” he said. The rental space for the two county departments “was supposed to be temporary.”

The chairman would not write off the project, however.

“Ultimately, it’s been put on the back burner. We’re going to have a whole new board in January,” he said.

Mr. Tabolt said he also will discuss other space available in the 18,413-square-foot Commons building at 7550 South State St., which also houses Behavioral Health and Wellness Center of Lewis County, private office spaces and vacant office space.

“We’ll keep the lines of communication open (with the village of Lowville), so we don’t get back into the same thing if the project comes up again,” he said.

Village officials voiced concerns over sewer and traffic issues which, they say, the county did not address. They passed a moratorium on sewer hook-ups for the project in an effort to get the county to answer their questions.

Legislator Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson, on Wednesday said he would go a step further than discussing the Commons building.

“I would actually buy it, revamp it,” he said. “It’s the best option right now because it would reduce county spending.”

With the recent relocation of Hirschey & Associates from the building, he said, “There’s more space available. We can make that place feasible.”

To address the future needs of the sheriff’s office and accommodate a new dispatch center, Mr. Stanford said, there are options other than a new building.

“I would like to see if the state will approve us to build onto the sheriff’s building and just put in what’s necessary,” he said.

Because county dispatchers also are trained as corrections officers, moving them to a new building would have then necessitated the hiring of new officers to replace them in the jail.

Not having to do so would reduce the sheriff’s budget in the future, he added.

The 24 hours that had passed since the vote hadn’t swayed Jack T. Bush, R-Brantingham.

“I haven’t changed my mind,” he said, noting the limited space in the Department of Social Services building remains a problem.

“We’ve got caseworkers and supervisors in offices that used to be electrical closets and broom closets,” he said, adding, “They do a good job, but every inch of space is taken.”

As for considering the Commons as a temporary solution, he said, “If they give us the Hirschey space, they’ll want an extended lease on everything. That’s a prime space.”

Buying the property may be a more expensive option because of the cost of office remodeling, he said.

“The heating and air conditioning are original to the building. That will be another expense,” Mr. Bush said.

But John O. Boyd, D-New Bremen, would like to see the county move forward with the purchase of the Commons.

“I’m in favor of buying it. It’s a no-brainer,” he said, also acknowledging he was never on the fence about the new building project.

“It was a dumb idea from the start,” he said, “We never should have considered it. We should have bought the Commons a year ago.”

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