Lakewood, Busti May Have Missed Opportunity

Many town residents are concerned over a possible missed opportunity to bring together both the village of Lakewood and town of Busti offices under one roof. They are continuing efforts to communicate to both the village trustees and the town council members their opposition over Busti’s plan to purchase 125 Chautauqua Avenue, also known as the Tordella’s building. This is a prime section of retail space directly across the street from the popular Lakewood Apothecary. Unfortunately, at the last Lakewood village meeting, citizens concerns, though well communicated, failed to result in a clear understanding of the facts. One Lakewood resident spent a considerable amount of time contacting an architect to estimate the cost of renovating the Lakewood village municipal building so that the town of Busti could move into the ample unused space. The idea is simple: put both the town and the village in one building. It is not a question of space. There is plenty available. It is also not a question of funds. Busti expects to receive approximately $300,000.00 after selling its current building to Jamestown Credit Union; and plans on spending reportedly another $100,000.00 in renovations.

However, it seemed the village mayor misunderstood. He responded with a long dialog about the failed “dissolution” attempt in 2010. Nobody has ever said anything about dissolution. The nearly full village hall actually chuckled when the resident apologized for bringing up “consolidation,” as a possible means of attracting state funds to help defray the cost of the renovation. the record, residents clearly want to keep Lakewood’s retail space open for future business opportunities. Residents are simply asking the town of Busti to look at other since turning prime retail space into government-owned is detrimental to Lakewood in the long term. Some in favor of the purchase argue the building is vacant, but a relatively new Lakewood business is making plans to expand and lease the building this spring if the town decides against the purchase. The non-partisan Lakewood-Busti Citizens Action Committee is growing and has one main priority: the future success of our community. Residents are also filling most of the seats at both town and village meetings and whether they are vocal or not, they truly wish the two boards would listen to the people who put them in office, and find a way to work together. Perhaps working in the same building would go a long way toward accomplishing these goals. Unfortunately, Busti denied a request to hold a joint public hearing-with both boards present-to discuss details of the current plan and other possible options. A public hearing on the matter is set for Tuesday, February 18 before the Busti Town Council.

Cara Birrittieri is a Lakewood resident and a member of the Citizens Action Committee.