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LITTLE VALLEY – As new programs and different models take hold in the Cattaraugus County Probation Department, the space available may become inadequate, according to Gerald Zimmerman, director of the department.

The present small office is adjacent to the county refuse transfer station just off Center Street.

“The building is very close to the gas pumps and the fire suppression system,” Zimmerman said. “We recently had a system discharge, and the powder got on all the vehicles in the area.”

Another concern raised by Zimmerman deals more with summer weather. “You can only imagine the smell,” he said.

Members of the county’s Public Works Committee had asked for a comparison of the cost of renting space in Salamanca versus purchasing a double-wide mobile home and placing it on a vacant parcel.

Lease property in the City of Salamanca is about $10 per square foot, according to Joseph Pillittere, county public works commissioner.

To purchase a mobile structure would cost between $48 and $50 a square foot, he continued. That cost does not include site preparation work, such as a concrete pad and utility access.

The Probation Department is budgeted for $80,000 in 2013. Of that amount, $20,000 has been budgeted for facilities. To purchase a building and prepare the site for installation would be well above that budget, Pillittere said.

Renovation of the current space is also cost prohibitive, according to Zimmerman and Pillittere. The committee recommends finding a new facility and continuing to rent in the City of Salamanca.

“We have to think about what’s best for our county,” committee Chairman William Aiello, R-Olean, said. “We started to look at the costs of renovation and repair, that’s when we started looking at a new building.”

The location of the facility, being in the City of Salamanca, is important, Zimmerman told the members of the committee.

“I have looked at the numbers,” he said. “Salamanca and Olean have the highest rates of probationers in the county. It’s to be expected, since they are cities.”

With a facility already housing an office of the Probation Department in the City of Olean, transportation becomes an issue for those who use the services in Salamanca, Zimmerman said.

“One of the biggest means of transportation is either walking or by bike,” Zimmerman said.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com