Lakewood residents are right when they say it is time for the Lakewood and Busti governments to be located in one building.
Give credit to the Busti Town Board, then, for tabling a motion to purchase the former Tordella's Surfaces building on Chautauqua Avenue, Lakewood, to be the next home of the Busti town offices after the town's current home is sold to to the Jamestown Area Federal Credit Union. Tabling the Tordella's purchase is a show of good faith on the town's part.
Now, it's time for village residents to do the same.
Lakewood residents who have spoken up recently at Lakewood Village Board and Busti Town Board meetings are adamant that Lakewood's Anthony C. Caprino Building is a very nice village hall that would serve as a nice home to the town offices. The Caprino Building occupies a unique role in Lakewood history. 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 village's former mayor, Anthony Caprino, died on March 4, 2011, Lakewood renamed the village hall in his honor.
During Monday's Village Board meeting, Lakewood's elected officials laid out Busti's reasons for not moving into the Caprino Building. Charles Smith, Lakewood code enforcement officer, told Lakewood residents he examined the situation and decided the least expensive option for Busti is to move into the Tordella's building. Dave Wordelmann, Lakewood's mayor, asked residents to remember the "loss of identity" complaints that reared their ugly head during Lakewood and Busti merger talks in 2011 when a merger would have meant an empty Caprino Building.
The identity argument is worth noting, but it is a bad reason to hold back on a move that makes sense. Lakewood residents have opened a window of opportunity to talk things over with Busti officials. That window could shut just as quickly as it opened if they hold on to their stance of locating both governments in the Caprino Building or bust. If moving Busti into the Caprino Building isn't economically viable, perhaps the discussion needs to shift toward a new building that fits both government's needs.
Times change. If the Caprino Building can't function in the role needed for it in 2014, we can find another use for such a wonderful property and locate both governments in a new building that sets the stage for further administrative shared services in the coming years.