Tale Of Two Town Halls

BUSTI- While citizens from Busti and Lakewood await a state Supreme Court decision regarding a permissive referendum on the sale of the current town hall, Busti has already purchased the former Tordella’s Surfaces building.

“We started renovations and moving small stuff into the building,” Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, said of the future town hall. He said the board is still waiting for the judge’s decision regarding the sale of the town hall.

There was an original contingency on the purchase of the Tordella’s building saying the board wasn’t required to go through with the transaction if their town hall sale didn’t go through. However, the board later decided to go forward with purchasing the building using surplus funds.

“Like any real estate contract, the buyer can always remove the contingency,” said Joel Seachrist, attorney for the town, in a past board meeting. “So, if we choose to go forward with the purchase of that building, we can do that using surplus funds. (The current town hall) would still be up in the air on whether people would want to sell it.”

At Monday’s board meeting, there was some discussion from the public about Busti purchasing the Tordella’s building even though town and village residents are still awaiting a decision on the status of the permissive referendum. A Lakewood resident expressed concern about the town now owning two buildings.

“Councilman (Kenneth) Lawton raised the point we didn’t want to end up owning both of these buildings,” the resident said, in regard to comments made at the Feb. 12 meeting. “Now pretty much all of you agreed. … And I am amazed, one month later, we seem to own both of these buildings.”

However, not everyone is unhappy about the board’s decision. Judy Schultz, of Southwestern Drive, thanked the board and stated she was in favor of what they are doing.

“Thank you for thinking of all the town residents and not just the special interest groups,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union hopes to move forward with purchasing Busti’s current town hall. Their purchase is not contingent on Busti’s purchase of the Tordella’s building but on the permissive referendum.

“It is strictly a business deal,” said Vicky Burdick, the chief executive officer for the Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union. She said the credit union isn’t involved in any of the local politics surrounding the Busti’s purchase of the Tordella or the town’s sale of their town hall. She said the reason the Jamestown Credit Union is interested in Busti’s town hall is because at their previous location, they were not able to be as involved in the community as they would like. While the credit union remains interested in the town hall, the law will determine if they can purchase it or not. “The sale will go through or not go through by the law.”

The current court case pending against the sale of the town hall at 121 Chautauqua Ave. stems from a petition signed by more than 200 people. In February, the town board approved a resolution to purchase the Tordella’s building at 125 Chautauqua Ave. at a cost of $330,000, contingent upon the sale of the current town hall. The Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union, which has an expiring lease, offered the town $300,000 for the building at 121 Chautauqua Ave. Some residents have argued, that despite the cost to upgrade the facility, the town and village should merge offices into the Anthony C. Caprino Municipal Building.

If the judge approves the referendum, Busti will need to set a date for the special election. Even if the referendum votes against the sale, the town will be able to make a motion to sell the building again the very next day. There is no limit on how many times they can do this.