Probation, Mental Hygiene staff enjoying new location
Staff members in Chautauqua County’s Office of Probation are enjoying their new Dunkirk location.
During the legislature’s Public Safety Committee meeting, Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, gave an update to the committee.
“The Probation Department moved into their new office in the Dunkirk Ag Center (60-62 Franklin Ave.) at the start of this month. The move increases their space from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet and maintains their staff and close proximity to Mental Hygiene and is nearby to their previous office,” he said.
The county’s Mental Hygiene Department is also in the process of relocating to the building.
According to Chagnon, for the Probation Department, the lease cost per square foot is less than in their previous office. The build out costs were slightly higher than anticipated, due to them installing a drug testing bathroom, doors, and information technology costs. Those costs have been rolled into the monthly lease payments. “There is no net 2022 budget impact. The additional costs related to the additional space and an overlap in the previous and new leases to accommodate the move are fully covered by reductions in contractual expenses,” said Chagnon.
Chagnon said next month, county lawmakers will need to approve accounting changes to the budget.
Chagnon said the Probation Department wanted a new location in close proximity with the county’s Mental Hygiene Department. “It was an opportunity to keep the two departments that have a lot of work together. They have a lot of interaction and they (Probation) were looking for more space,” he said.
According to Legislator Terry Niebel, the Probation Department is now on Franklin Avenue, in what used to be the Cliffstar Conference Building, which is about a half mile from the Graf Building on Central Avenue, its previous location.
Niebel said the new location provides an office for the director, who will be there one to two days a week, and also has a conference room, which the previous location did not have.
He believes this new location won’t hurt Dunkirk’s economic impact. “There’s no decrease in staff. It’s only a half a mile from the previous location, so the staff will continue to shop and eat in downtown Dunkirk. … By all accounts that I can see it’s a win-win for the county and the city of Dunkirk,” he said.
Trish McClennan, deputy director of Mental Hygiene, discussed with the Human Services Committee their relocation in Dunkirk, which is still underway. “This is an exciting move. Our staff is looking forward to it. It will not affect any of our staffing. The same number of staff are coming with us,” she said.
McClennan said they do serve some clients through tele-health services. Others come to the building. Because of their location, they are still within walking distance for many city residents. She said they also have a partnership with Brooks Memorial Hospital where patients they can be seen immediately.
McClennan said the new building has a place where they can do child-parent therapy. “This new move allowed us to carve out some space there to do this therapy in a much better venue,” she said.
She said they should be finished moving over between mid-May and mid-June. Their lease will be for five years. There will be a cost savings with a lower lease. There is a build-out cost, but those costs are funded through grants so their county budget won’t be affected.