Note: In the version of this article that appeared in Thursday's edition of The Post-Journal and previously on this website, Nancy Bargar, a former Chautauqua County legislator, spoke up about the history of the Lakewood building. She was incorrectly identified.
LAKEWOOD- The future location of Busti's town offices is up in the air.
A group of Lakewood residents spoke up in Busti and Lakewood's board meetings about their desire for Busti to move into Lakewood's village hall
Busti Town Hall can be seen in the left toward the front of the photo — where Busti currently holds its meetings. On the right in the background Tordella’s Surfaces can be seen.
P-J photo by Mallory Diefenbach
At Lakewood's Village Board meeting last week, discussion about the alleged difficulty Busti and Lakewood have communicating with each other and the possibility of converting Busti's town hall into to be a bank arose.
Dr. Rudy Mueller, former Chautauqua County legislator, asked why Lakewood village hall can't host Busti's board.
"You're asking the wrong people," Lakewood Mayor David Wordelmann said. "You need to ask them (Busti) why they can't do it."
Residents began to discuss amongst themselves how to meet and convince the Busti Town Board to listen to what they have to say. The residents and two trustees ended up showing up to Busti's town board meeting on Tuesday.
"I think another point that needs to be driven home again and again is the historical aspect of the building we are sitting in right now, versus the building the town is having difficulty vacating," said Nancy Barbar, a Lakewood resident during Lakewood's meeting. "They are two different animals. ... We're not being difficult in saying we wouldn't leave a building named after our former mayor and the Packard family has been instrumentally involved in the past. There is history here. And that has to be kept in mind, and the town I believe is not being realistic about the difference between a building constructed for commercial purposes and a building constructed for public business."
The Packard family, a prominent family in the Lakewood area, donated property and funds to the village to build a village hall and fire station on the northeast corner of Owana Way and West Summit Street in 1915. When the former mayor, Anthony Caprino, died on March 4, 2011, Lakewood renamed the village hall to the Anthony C. Caprino Municipal Building on Sept. 15, 2011.
It was with this thought in mind that Lakewood residents showed up to Busti's town board meeting Tuesday to argue their case for Busti to move into Lakewood's village hall instead of the former Tordella's Surfaces next door at 125 Chautauqua Ave. They also said more information in the ways of numbers and costs about the different options should be made available to the public.
"I guess I'm inclined to agree with these folks here that there should be a lot more public information," said Samuel Whitmore, owner of Bag and String Wine Merchants in Lakewood. "I didn't even know the town was interested in that property until I expressed interest.
"I think there may be other options the residents may be able to bring up that you, who have been focused on this (the purchase of the former Tordella's Surfaces) for so long, sometimes that one person way out there comes up with an idea that makes a lot of sense."
"My concern is taking a building like that off the tax rolls," said Jackson Smith, Lakewood resident. He said that his concern lies with the merchants, and Busti should notify business owners of their interest to buy the former Tordella's.
"I, for one, am not in favor of spending any money to look into studies," said PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County legislator for District 10. "These studies are what everybody thinks. You can look into them and see one thing or see another."
Wendel pointed out Tordella's has sat vacant for at least 15 years. He personally supported the purchase of the property at 125 Chautauqua Ave.
"I support the board," Wendel said. "I think it's a chance for them to move and a chance for them to develop. I think the opportunity is there."
Robbins tried to explain to the people he had done all of his research into what the best possible move for the town was. The move into Tordella's would be able to be done without borrowing or costing the taxpayers any money.
"The insurance is less. The utilities are less. I'm compliant with everything," Robbins said. "I don't understand ... looking at it for the whole town, this is the most financial and responsible thing to do."
Busti ended up tabling their motion to sell the town hall to Jamestown Credit Union due to the mass amount of contention on where they would go.
Brett Mucheck, Busti councilman, said while he supported the selling of the current building and buying of the former Tordella's, he feels as an elected official, he should take what the public is saying into consideration.
"Even though right now I may not agree with some of your opinions, and I am for moving into that building, I can certainly understand that if I am here to represent you, and you are looking for some more details and information, for us to table this to another meeting by all means and getting information out there - even at a loss to selling this building. I think we owe it to the people who elected us to listen to them and hear some of their opinions," Mucheck said.