Several Niagara County departments will be playing a game of musical offices, starting today.
When the music stops, six offices will have new addresses, according to County Legislature Public Works Committee Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville.
The Central Data-Processing Department will move from the basement of the County Courthouse to the second floor of the Nelson Building at Park Avenue and Hawley Street. The basement office will be taken over by the pistol permit office, now on the second floor of the Courthouse.
The pistol permit move is part of a plan to improve security at the courthouse. That office is currently next door to a holding room used by prisoners before and after they appear in court.
Data Processing's new digs are in space being vacated by Public Works, which will move down to the first floor of the Nelson Building, bumping the county purchasing office to the Civil Defense Building at Niagara and Hawley streets.
Purchasing will replace the code enforcement and emergency management offices, which will be moved to trailers at the County Jail on Niagara Street Extension.
Public Works Commissioner Dorson R. Wilson said the sequence of moves will begin with Emergency Management heading to the jail trailer. He said he expects all the moves to be completed within three weeks.
Central Data Processing Director Larry L. Helwig said, "Our quarters are inadequate. People are working in real small cubicles." He said some share those cubicles with the county's computer servers. "We have network hubs on bookshelves," Helwig said.
Besides himself, the department has eight full-time employees, with a ninth to start soon. Four temporary workers have been authorized as the county plans to renovate its network under a $2 million technology plan approved last year.
Helwig said the current basement offices total 880 square feet, along with a 200-square-foot computer room. The Nelson Building site measures 1,622 square feet, Helwig said.
However, pistol permit clerk Mary Fitts Carpenter said the basement space will be a significant increase from the room currently occupied by and her staff of two employees, one full-time and one part-time.
Moving the county's computer nerve center won't be that complicated, Helwig said. "We're PCs (personal computers). Our servers aren't much bigger than copiers. We're going to have to redo some wiring, but we have three big conduits between the Courthouse and the Nelson Building. We'll have to reinstall some fiber optics."
Burmaster said action is finally being taken on moving offices after years of hesitation. "We've had a space allocation committee in place for years, but in the four years I've been on Public Works, it never met," Burmaster said.
He gave the credit for speeding up the process of moving and the companion courthouse security project to Wilson and his deputies, Carl Allan and Robin DeVoe. "We're not micromanaging them," Burmaster said.
The security project involves making sure the public enters the Courthouse only through the the door off the main parking lot facing Park Avenue. All other entrances will be restricted to employee use, and admittance will be possible only with a personalized plastic card to be swiped through a scanner in order to unlock the doors.
Meanwhile, Burmaster said the proposal to rename the Nelson Building for former GOP Legislator Philo J. Brooks of Porter seems to have been shelved. "I think there's a hesitancy to name buildings after living people," Burmaster said. The proposal was made last year by Legislator John S. Tylec, D-North Tonawanda.
The name of the Nelson Building derives from a former auto dealer, Nelson Motors, that occupied the site before the county bought it.