LAKEWOOD- The first meeting of the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee is today at the Anthony C. Caprino Building.
The Capital Improvements Advisory Committee - also known as the Busti Advisory Group - was formed on April 28 during a special meeting regarding the sale of the old town hall at 121 Chautauqua Ave. to the Jamestown Area Federal Credit Union. At the end of the meeting, Busti Councilman Kenneth Lawton suggested the town board make an ad hoc committee to discuss other options for the Busti town hall after Lakewood residents said they believed there were alternatives to the old Tordella's Surfaces building, Busti's new town hall at 125 Chautauqua Ave. The ad hoc committee suggestion was widely received by everyone at the April meeting, and the board passed a resolution to create the group.
"This is a step in the right direction," said Cara Birrittieri, Citizens for Better Government spokesperson. "This group is now doing what we asked the board to do long ago."
Committee members serve without compensation and are responsible for reviewing and looking at potential town hall buildings with the understanding that the court needs to relocate from the second floor of the Caprino Building as soon as possible. The mission of the six-member committee will be to develop and consider options for the use of the current town facilities, including: the Caprino Building, the Community Center at 9 W. Summit Ave., and the two offices at 125 Chautauqua Ave., all with a comparative cost-benefit analysis. There is an understanding that the current town hall at 125 Chautauqua Ave. would go through some renovations - namely to get the court out of its location at the village hall - and that looking into options could take a while.
"It has to be done with the understanding that we'll get moved out of the bank (the old town hall), we'll move the courtroom over with minimal investment to the front retail half (of the new town hall) until it is determined what the best option is," said Richard Thor, Busti councilman, during the April 28 meeting.
The committee members are: Kay Smith, Craig Seger, Jim Rovegno, William A. Evans III, David Bargar and Cheryl Johnson.
Councilmen Richard Thor and Todd Hanson will serve on the sounding board made up of the officers to whom the committee will report. They are not part of the actual Capital Improvements Advisory Committee.
The committee will listen to a variety of speakers from state Sen. Cathy Young to Lori Cornell, liaison for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Each meeting will have a different speaker, who will be announced in advance.
"They are not a voting group. They are strictly an advisory group," said David Bargar, committee member, in regards to the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee. "... We really aren't interested in people's opinion. We just want facts."
Bargar believes the process will take until the end of August or second week of September, but doesn't want to put a time limit on it. He said the committee's job is to take good notes, to think independently and do so in an unbiased fashion based on facts.
The Busti board said it will consider the hard facts and expert opinions that will eventually be presented to the town on how to move forward with the new town hall building long term. For residents who wish to see the progress of the committee, every four to six weeks one of the meetings will be to put the information spreadsheet up on a screen for the public to view.
"All the citizens on the committee are all positive, all open-minded," said Hanson in regards to the committee. He said it is a great opportunity for people to get educated and offer positive and constructive input.
The Busti Advisory Group is holding regular meetings on Wednesday nights. The first public meeting will be held tonight at 7. The presenter is Busti Town Court Justice Lyle Hajdu, who will speak about the current court business, as well as the space and accessibility needs of the court going forward. All Busti residents are encouraged to attend.