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Analysis Continues Regarding Downtown Facilities Options

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Analysis Continues Regarding Downtown Facilities Options

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Legislature’s Downtown Facilities Committee today continued its analysis of Tompkins County’s downtown facilities options, centered around the County’s acquisition of properties in the 400 block of North Tioga Street, the expected site for a new County office building.

The committee was advised that a November 30th closing date is now anticipated, so that the County can take title to the property without tenants.  Director of Assessment Jay Franklin (who has been the point of contact on purchase contract matters) reported that the dental practice’s lease terminates as of that date, while all other building space and parking leases run on a month-to-month basis.   Some decades-old title issues are also being worked through by legal counsel, he said.

As indicated last month, County Administrator Jason Molino offered for committee review a proposal for how the County might provide temporary interim parking for County employees at the Tioga property, after the County takes title to the property and pending property development.  Mr. Molino noted that the County has approximately 110 full-time employees and Legislators vying for the 65 parking spaces open for County employee use in the current Courthouse Complex, and that approximately 79 parking spaces exist at the N. Tioga campus.  There are 35 management staff and 14 Legislators in the Courthouse Complex, for a total of 49.  “If we assign parking spots in the N. Tioga St. campus for all management staff and Legislators, we would free up a significant amount of parking spaces in the Courthouse Complex,” the administrator said.  “With this proposal, we would remove approximately 49 cars from the Courthouse complex which would leave 61 cars for the existing 65 assigned spots.”  He stressed that the County would need to agree with union leadership that the temporary change in parking would not make parking a term and condition of employment.  Mr. Molino indicated the proposed arrangement may also leave the opportunity for temporary parking for other county departments.  Cost of surface patching and exterior lighting for the N. Tioga lot is estimated at $2,000-$3,000.

Considering how it may best approach review of the Tioga property feasibility study prepared by HOLT Architects and evaluate the scenarios offered, the committee reached informal consensus to first consider the status of the red house at 408 N. Tioga—whether renovated for county offices as part of the project (as all but one of the scenarios suggest), subdivided off and relinquished by the County, or demolished.  A decision to subdivide would affect the building footprint and parking provisions, Administrator Molino noted; Legislator Rich John also said it would limit options for housing along Sears Street.  The architect will be invited to next month’s meeting August 8th to report on comparable cost of renovating the 408 building or building new to provide that office space.

Committee members were told that the Office of Court Administration has told the County it will eventually need all of the space in the County Courthouse, but that the County Clerk’s and District Attorney’s Offices can remain there pending development of new County facilities.  Administrator Molino also reported that the Court system is making interim Courthouse facility arrangements to house the third County Judge just approved by New York State, who will be seated as of the beginning of next year.