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Legislature asked not to leave historic Albion building

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2016 at 12:00 am
moon over Orleans County Courthouse

File photo by Peggy Barringer – Peggy Barringer took this photo in January 2014 of a full moon over the Orleans County Courthouse and the County Clerks Building. County officials may shift some of the government offices from the Clerks Building to a possible addition to the County Administration Building on Route 31.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature was asked to not leave the current legislative chambers for a possible new site on Route 31.

The county is exploring putting an addition on to the County Administration Building. It might put the Board of Elections, Public Health Department, and Legislature staff and offices in the new addition.

The county voted last week to hire the Wendel firm in Williamsville to examine the feasibility of the project. Wendel will be paid up to $30,000 for the work.

Bruce Schmidt, a local attorney and the Gaines town justice, said the Legislature shouldn’t move from its current chambers, where the body has met since soon after its inception in 1980. The Legislature replaced the former Board of Supervisors, which met in the first floor of the county courthouse in space now used by Family Court.

The county judge used to have Family Court in the Clerks Building, which was known as the Surrogate’s Building. The building was built in 1888 in the Eastlake Style and is part of the Courthouse Square historic district, which is named to the National Register of Historic Places.

“This building is of a historic nature,” Schmidt told county legislators last week. “This body is of a historic nature.”

Schmidt said the Legislature should stay in the Courthouse Square and not leave for a site that is outside the village, the county seat.

“Creative thinking could keep us here,” Schmidt said.

Legislature Chairman David Callard responded to Schmidt that the historic building wouldn’t disappear if the Legislature left for the new space on the possible addition.

That site might also include conference and training rooms. Schmidt said the Legislature could use existing conference and training rooms at local schools or the library.

Callard said nothing has been determined with the Legislature’s future location. The study is just exploratory, he said.

“How we utilize the building hasn’t been determined,” he said.

The Legislature used to meet the second and fourth Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in the upper floor of the Clerks Building. However, last year the Legislature changed to having only one meeting a month on the fourth Wednesday.

The walls of the legislative chambers include many photos of the former Board of Supervisors and members of the County Legislature.

“It is significant to this building and for this Square for the Legislature to stay here,” Schmidt said.