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Views vary on location for new Police Headquarters in Batavia

BATAVIA – Businessman Vito J. Gautieri cast his vote for Alva Place, stating that a new Police Headquarters should be downtown, near banks, stores and the City Centre mall.

City Council Member Rose Mary Christian disagrees, saying that a larger site on Swan Street – on South Side and in her ward – is most suitable because it has potential for commercial development.

Charles Ruffino, a former Council member and county legislator, supports a “shared services” approach no matter where the building is constructed.

And Diana Kastenbaum, vice president of the Landmark Society of Genesee County, says she is more concerned about the future of the current Police Headquarters – the former Brisbane family mansion that was built in the mid-19th century.

These were some of the opinions expressed Tuesday night at a town hall-style meeting called by the police facility task force. The committee has reduced a list of more than a dozen potential sites to two – a parking lot on Alva Place and a vacant site at 35 Swan.

About 30 people, including several Council members, attended the 90-minute presentation and question-and-answer session at City Hall.

City officials would like to see a new Police Headquarters because the current one on West Main Street is inadequate. Estimates for a new facility are between $10 million and $12 million

Gautieri, owner of V.J. Gautieri Constructors, said Alva Place “should be your first consideration since you already own it.”

“Someday, if they extend Jackson Street through Main Street, anyplace near the mall would be a good location,” he said. “There’s plenty of room there, and you could gain 100 parking spaces (through reconfiguration).”

Committee spokesman Marc Staley said that owners of businesses around the Alva Place parking lot have told him they would relocate because a new police building would reduce customer parking.

“While Alva Place is not off the list by any means, we have to consider the disruption to business, not just the benefit to business,” he said, acknowledging that “hot corners for development” would be created should Jackson Street be extended through Main to Alva.

Christian said she “looked forward to industry coming to that area” should the police facility be built on Swan.

“There are 40 acres there to be developed,” she said. “If you’re talking about shared services, the Sheriff’s Office could move to Swan Street. That would solve that issue.”

Ruffino, noting that the city and the county have not experienced any population growth, urged the committee to consider “where do we want to be in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. With a stand-alone building, you are stuck with it.” He said a shared services, or hybrid, facility would give the city more for its money.

Kastenbaum said she wants assurances that the former Brisbane mansion will be preserved.

“I need to know that this building is not going to be destroyed in any way, shape or form. I’d like to see something in writing – in black and white – that it is not going to be destroyed if sold to somebody on the outside.”

The task force will meet at least one more time, Staley said, before submitting its report to the Council.