LOCKPORT – Niagara County apparently will need a new place to store its voting machines.
As Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, had promised last summer, he and his fellow Democrats introduced a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting of the County Legislature calling for fresh bidding on the storage space lease.
For the last six years, the county has been storing the machines in a former mattress factory on Transit Road in Newfane, owned by Lockport real estate developer David L. Ulrich. The $86,400-a-year lease for the 28,000-square-foot space renews automatically every Aug. 1 unless one side or the other gives notice 120 days in advance.
And Ulrich gave that notice in a letter Thursday to County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz.
Last year, the Legislature considered seeking new bids, but Virtuoso raised the issue within the 120-day window for renewal notice, so County Attorney Claude A. Joerg ruled it was too late for action. Virtuoso said at the time he would bring the issue up again early in 2014.
Meanwhile, Ulrich said he had wanted a renewal for more than one year at a time. “I’m giving notice because they failed to renew for a prolonged period,” he said Tuesday. He said the return of the item to the Legislature agenda had nothing to do with Thursday’s notice letter to Glatz. “I didn’t learn about the resolution until Monday,” Ulrich said.
He said he has another tenant interested in the space where the machines are kept, although he wouldn’t identify that prospective customer.
Glatz said the county is merely doing what it said it would do last summer when the party leaders in the Legislature agreed there was no objection to a fresh request for proposals.
Democrats have charged in the past that the lease was a gift to Ulrich, a frequent large contributor to GOP candidates’ campaigns.
Ulrich said Tuesday, “They’ve been a great tenant, and we’ve been a great landlord.”
In October 2012, the Legislature approved a five-year lease on another 28,800 square feet in the 65,000-square-foot former mattress plant to store county records. The county will pay Ulrich $640,800 over the life of that lease.
Ulrich also provided free land outside the plant for the county to build a new antenna for its emergency radio system, which is to come on line this year.
The Legislature also appointed Jerald I. Wolfgang of Youngstown, a veteran figure in the county’s business community, to the Industrial Development Agency board, replacing former Lockport Mayor Michael W. Tucker, who resigned from the IDA when he quit as mayor Feb. 21. Wolfgang has been executive director of the Western New York Regional Education Center for Economic Development since 1983.