Building Next Door

BUSTI – Busti’s new town hall will not be difficult to find, despite public outcry for continued discussion.

The Busti Town Hall at 121 Chautauqua Ave. was packed with residents from Lakewood and Busti on Wednesday to speak up about the fate of the building and that of Tordella’s Surfaces next door at 125 Chautauqua Ave.

As soon as the meeting started, residents were given three minutes to speak on the matter once as part of the rules laid out for discussion by Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor. There was a mixture of opinions from full support of buying the Tordella building, calls for Busti to move into Lakewood’s Anthony C. Caprino Municipal Building, questions about any other options and citizens who just want the hard numbers before deciding to support any side. While there was the full support for the sale of the current town hall, public support seemed to lean toward Busti moving into Lakewood’s village or to pursue some sort of third option.

“I don’t even know if they have to move,” admitted Joe Siperek, of 1285 Shadyside Road. “… But what I don’t want to do is put our money into a building we are not going to own. It doesn’t makes sense. I don’t understand that even though we are all town residents, let’s face it – we aren’t all village residents. There’s a difference.”

“To make a really educated decision, we need to know the numbers,” said Hart Jordan of 537 Creek Road. He asked for information on the square footage and how much it would cost the taxpayers – questions which would be answered after the public discussion.

“I would like to see more consolidation,” said Bill Wohler of 19 W. Third St. “I would like to see the town of Busti and Lakewood get along together in the same building.”

After the public gave their thoughts, Robbins presented estimates given by Charlie Smith, Lakewood code enforcement officer, with the help of Paul Hedin, a Habiterra board member, for four possible options: construction of a single-floor addition behind the Caprino building which would include a court and office but no recreational center; renovate the second floor of the Caprino building, including an entrance lobby, a stair tower, an elevator and sprinkler system – which also wouldn’t have a community building; tearing down the Recreational Center (which can’t be done in actuality due to the contract Busti is held to) to build one building for Lakewood and Busti at the cost of a court; and the Tordella building option which would include the Recreational Center plus space to grow. Cost-wise, Tordella was the cheapest option.

In response to Robbins’ estimates, Rudy Mueller, former Chautauqua County legislator, presented his own estimates by Clark Patterson Lee for the Caprino building which would convert the police vehicle parking and evidence room into the town court.

Kenneth Lawton, Busti trustee, admitted he didn’t understand the options and the benefits presented, and this was the first time he was seeing Robbins’ estimates. Robbins told him he should have received an email Tuesday with them, which Lawton said he did not get.

Todd Hanson, another Busti trustee, said this was something Busti had been looking into for the past two years.

“As far as Chautauqua Avenue goes, all of us here in this room want to see this village prosper and develop,” Hanson said. “… It has been said if we move to the building next door, we’ll be there forever. We haven’t been here forever, and we won’t be there forever.”

After about an hour into the meeting, Robbins tried to close the floor much to the loud protest of the crowd. Mueller suggested Busti move into Lakewood’s village hall temporarily while they get the numbers for people to discuss and buying the building at a later time. Rick Thor, Busti trustee, said that the logistics of the move makes it very difficult and doesn’t make sense.

The Busti Town Board authorized Robbins to sign the paperwork to purchase Tordella’s contingent on the sale of the town hall. It was approved with only Lawton voting against it. The entire board voted in favor of the sale of the town hall.

Residents who are in disagreement with the board’s decision in regard to the town hall can make a public referendum. By collecting 150 signatures in 30 days, the public can bring the decision to a popular vote to overturn the motion.