LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature voted 12-3 Tuesday night to lease space in a former factory on Transit Road in Newfane as a new records storage headquarters.
The party-line vote on the five-year deal for 28,800 square feet in the former Lockport Mattress Co. plant, owned by a company controlled by Lockport developer David L. Ulrich, commits the county to pay $4.45 per square foot each year, or $640,800 over the life of the lease.
The Republican-controlled county already stores its voting machines in 28,800 square feet in that same building under an $86,400-a-year lease. Ulrich has agreed to pay for the preparation of the records space and to give the county free use of land at the site to build a new emergency radio tower. “I want to make it very clear we are not looking for a payback, we are looking for a partner,” Ulrich said. He said he can have the space ready in 70 days.
County Clerk Wayne F. Jagow said the two existing county records storage buildings on Davison Road in Lockport, totaling 15,000 square feet, are full, and the contents will be moved to Newfane. “Ultimately, what we would shoot for is to have everything under one roof,” he said.
Those Lockport buildings may be sold to R.B. Mac Properties of Lockport in a deal for about $160,000 to buy 16.9 acres of county land there, next to the county golf course.
However, Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said the current state of talks is that the county would keep the records storage buildings. County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said the buyer will have an option to purchase them later.
Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville, said the county may want to sell more land to the east, and having records storage buildings there would interfere with that.
Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, said he wants to see a cost estimate on adding onto the existing storage buildings. He also said the county was violating its purchasing policy by not seeking a request for proposals. “It makes us look like fools if we do this,” he said. “If Mr. Ulrich is the low bidder, that’s fine with me.”
County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said courts have ruled such provisions don’t apply to real estate deals.
William Rutland, president of the county’s blue-collar union, opposed the deal because Ulrich is a major GOP campaign contributor.
Legislator Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls, said lawmakers have discussed moving ahead with a new Public Works headquarters on Junction Road in Cambria, which he said would include records storage.
Glatz said that was done in party caucuses this summer, and the cost estimated by the Wendel engineering firm was $33 million. He said the plan didn’t include a records storage facility, which he said would add $2 million to the price. “If we started building today, that site wouldn’t be ready for another three years,” he said.