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FORMER HOSPITAL EYED FOR POLICE, SHERIFF'S FACILITIES

A public safety campus that would relocate the Police Department and the Genesee County Sheriff's Department on the site of the former St. Jerome Hospital was outlined Tuesday for city and county lawmakers.

The projected $6 million cost would be more than $300,000 less than the already-planned relocation of both services to separate sites. The proposal, made by Steven J. Carmina of the Buffalo architectural firm Carmina & Wood, is a late entry following years of discussion on moving both police agencies.

The Sheriff's Department already has an option on Park Road property where a $3.5 million facility would be built. Police had been scheduled to move into the Batavia City Centre, part of a downtown shopping mall that would be converted into municipal offices in the next year.

The cost of these two projects, according to Carmina, would be $6.3 million compared with a price tag of more than $5.9 million to use the three-acre hospital site. The six-story St. Jerome building, most of it dating to the mid-1950s, has been largely vacant since the hospital merged in early 2000 with Genesee Memorial to form the United Memorial Medical Center.

The architect's plan calls the hospital structure "not conducive to office space, housing or a hotel" and too large to be converted into a skilled nursing facility.

However, a 20-year-old emergency room wing attached to the main hospital could be converted into the Sheriff's Department facility and an adjacent medical office building would become police headquarters. A new wing would join the two, offering public access and sharing of some services such as holding cells. The hospital building would be torn down, with the site set aside for a four-story office building that, Carmina added, "could be marketable and provide revenue for the city and county."

Legislator Michael T. Welsh, D-LeRoy, said his Public Service Committee, which scheduled Carmina's presentation, would meet next Tuesday, but he did not expect any decision to be made at that time. City Council President Richard A. DeFilippo, who authorized the feasibility study, said his body would discuss the proposal, but no date had been set.

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