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Batavia panel picks Swan Street for new police headquarters

BATAVIA – Sounding like a real estate agent who had just closed the sale, City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said he is thrilled that a parcel on Swan Street has been recommended for the site of a new police headquarters.

“Location, location, location,” Heubusch said following Tuesday night’s meeting, where the police facility task force’s panel announced its selection.

The vote was 6 to 1 for 35 Swan St., a nearly five-acre vacant lot on the city’s south side. The estimated cost of an 18,000-square foot building is $10 million to $12 million.

Heubusch said he was on board with the choice because of its whereabouts and its size.

“It is very centrally located and it gives us the ability to expand in the future, whether for a garage or another building or for the future relocation of the fire station,” he said. “And it gives us quick access because it isn’t in the congested downtown area.”

Currently, police are housed downtown in the former Brisbane family mansion that was built in 1855 and is part of the national historic registry. Batavia’s leaders have proposed a new police headquarters due to the deteriorating condition of the building, and created the task force to make a recommendation to City Council.

Over the past eight months, the task force considered more than a dozen sites, including a $16 million renovation of the Brisbane mansion.

Marc Staley, Al McGinnis, James Jacobs, David Leone and William Hayes cast their votes for Swan Street, as did Ashley Bateman, after stating that her first choice would be to renovate the Brisbane building.

Leone participated in the meeting on a conference call. Hayes was unable to attend, but let his choice be known via email.

Bateman, a member of Batavia’s Historic Preservation Committee, said she wants assurances that the mansion will not be torn down.

J. Peter Garlock, however, in a two-page memo, stated he was for staying at the current location for that and several other reasons – Batavia’s declining population, median family income, the need to look at a shared services facility, cost of the new police station and cost of maintaining the Brisbane mansion.

He said the existing police station possibly could be upgraded without having to finance a large mortgage.

“While we have the responsibility to provide a safe and proper workplace for our employees, we also have a fiduciary responsibility to our taxpayers,” he said.

Task force chairman Staley took exception to Garlock’s position, noting that Tuesday’s vote was supposed to be between two final sites – Swan Street and a downtown parking lot on Alva Place.

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