Too Close For Comfort

FALCONER – The oldest Department of Public Facilities shop in Chautauqua County is running out of room.

George Spanos, county director of Public Facilities, has made two presentations to legislature committees regarding the Falconer Department of Public Facilities shop and its need for a new building. Thursday, he will appeal to the Audit and Control Committee.

The current facility in Falconer was built in 1926, and has seen few upgrades over the years. Now, from ceiling leaks, to lack of room, to being unable to fit county equipment inside, the building is showing its age.

“I don’t think too many people have a home since the 1950s with no upgrades,” Spanos said. “That’s what very much summarizes it here.”

According to Spanos, the planning and drawings for a new shop would cost approximately $200,000 to $300,000. The shop itself would cost an estimated $4 million.

In April, Spanos presented the idea for a new shop to the Public Facilities committee.

“For over 20 years, we have been discussing upgrading the maintenance facility in Falconer,” Spanos had told the committee. “It’s time to move forward.”

At the May Public Facilities Committee meeting, Spanos was given the green light to draft a resolution that would provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace the aging structure.

Since April, several county legislators have toured the Falconer shop. Many of its offices, including the supervisors’ office, are shared spaces. The supervisors’ office alone has six people sharing three work spaces.

“We share,” Mike Borysoff, district supervisor, joked. “We take turns.”

The facility’s stock room also doubles as office space. And, due to a lack of storage space, two sheds have been added to the property, which hold equipment and parts in addition to an upstairs space in the shop.

“Every little corner has to be used,” Spanos said.

A ladies’ restroom was added to the building in the 1990s. The men’s restroom, on the other hand, has not been upgraded since the 1950s.

“I always tell the legislators that, before they make their decision, they should visit,” Spanos said. “If they would bring their personnel to work here, then they should expect everybody to work here. If they don’t, they shouldn’t expect other people.”

Another problem with the current shop is, while equipment has become larger in size over the years, the shop has remained the same. When a truck with a plow needs to be worked on in the wintertime, the garage doors often remain open to accommodate the size of the vehicle, exposing workers to the elements.

If the resolution to begin the process of building a new shop passes through committees next week, it will then be voted on by the full legislature June 26. According to Spanos, the current building would become strictly storage space, while a location close by would be the new county shop.

A new setup would be more efficient as well, according to Spanos, with equipment not being used during the current season being stored in the shop’s current location, while employees work out of the new location. Additionally, in anticipation of receiving funding for the new building, Spanos said the county is in the process of having a storage location in Busti appraised.

“If this materializes, we would not need that, so we would sell that,” Spanos said. “We will consolidate all our operations into one location.”

With every study that has been done over the years, Spanos said the location of the Falconer shop has never been considered to move, as it serves all of the south towns in the county. And, the current state and how much the county relies on the shop is the reason it needs to be upgraded, he said.

“We are not trying to present a bad situation. We are just presenting the facts,” Spanos said.

Spanos will be presenting to the Audit and Control Committee at 8:35 a.m. Thursday. The public is welcome to attend the committee meeting.