Stearns Building is new addition to Dunkirk City Hall

The Stearns Building is now an official part of City Hall.

The Stearns Building is now an official part of City Hall.

At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, the council voted 4-1 in favor of purchasing 338 Central Ave., better known as the Stearns Building, from Lesser Living Trust for the negotiated price of $170,000.

“In our budget, the mayor (Wilfred Rosas) was able to secure some budget stabilization funds of $304,828,” Fiscal Affairs Officer Marsha Beach stated at the March 21 fiscal affairs meeting. “The Stearns Building came upon us as an incredible opportunity.”

Also at that meeting, it was stated that on a recent trip to Albany, Rosas was able to come by an additional $285,000, bringing the total put forth for this purchase to approximately $590,000.

“The fact that the price is out there, it’s a good idea that if we’re going to vote on it, that we vote on it as soon as possible, because when you advertise a price like that, it gives other people an opportunity to come in and try to buy it for a higher price,” Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Civiletto stated at the workshop prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

According to City Attorney Richard Morrisroe, the court needs additional offices. He went on at other meetings prior to Tuesday’s, to mention that the city is also out of compliance with the New York state court system as well as the police department.

The purchase however was not without it’s concerns.

The original resolution was tabled 3-2 in lieu of more information, mostly on the return of investment put forth by Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan at the March 19 Common Council meeting.

“Have we done any commercial building inspection of the building itself such as roof, electric, water, windows, etcetera? What will the yearly utilities be and the cost to maintain it through janitorial services?” Heenan had asked.

Information was provided at the fiscal affairs meeting and in emails to members of the council over the next few weeks clarifying costs. According to Councilman-at-large Andy Woloszyn at Tuesday’s meeting, “a lot of information since we tabled this has come to our attention that we did not previously have.”

The single ‘nay’ vote came from Heenan who provided a statement to the OBSERVER.

“Our city is in the midst of a decline with a population of 12,000 and a deteriorating downtown district,” Heenan said. “I was elected to represent all people. We, as city officials, have the responsibility to be guardians of all tax dollars, no matter the source. Just saying ‘grant money’ should not make us any less responsible. That money comes from all taxpayers.”

Heenan went on to discuss that from what he understands, the court system and police departments are not out of compliance with state regulations and that, in his opinion, the building should not be taken off the tax rolls, that those tax monies could be used for other city improvements including infrastructure and equipment needs.