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Niagara County signs lease agreement for record storage space

With a 12-3 vote, the Niagara County Legislature approved a lease agreement to house records in a former factory on Transit Road in Newfane.

County Clerk Wayne Jagow spoke to the legislature Tuesday about the importance of more space. Currently, there are two locations that are used to hold records, equaling 15,000 square-feet of space. Jagow is in charge of maintaining the records for more than 40 county departments.

Both Davison Road facilities are currently at capacity and the structure of one of the buildings is leaving the important — birth, death, immigration, property and other records dating back to the 1800s — in danger of being destroyed.

“We’re at the point something really needs to be done,” said Jagow. “The reality is there will always be documents.”

He said they looked at several different facilities, but the Newfane location fit their needs the best and would double their current space, allowing all records to be in one place and leaving room for a proper prep area for documents.

The five-year lease agreement is for 28,800 square feet of space in the former Lockport Mattress Company. Developer David Ulrich, who owns the property, has agreed to fix the facility up to the specifications needed to store old records, at no cost and he will pay taxes. The county will pay $4.45 per square-foot each year, for a total of a little more than $600,000 over the length of the lease.

The county already leases space in the facility to store its voting machines. That will also be the site of the new emergency radio tower, which Ulrich gave to the county at no charge.

“I think I can provide the needs of Niagara County,” said Ulrich. “We’re not looking for a payback, we’re looking for a partner.”

He said there is a similar facility down the road from his building that is being used for record storage. He said that facility charges the user more than $7 per square-foot and also charges for taxes.

Once the space is ready, Jagow will have the ability to move the records to the new location at his own pace. The property on Davison Road surrounding the current record storage may be sold, but Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said currently, the storage buildings are not part of the 16.9 acre deal.

Several members of the legislature spoke up, both for and against this lease agreement.

Legislator Dennis Virtuoso questioned why they hadn’t looked into expanding onto the existing storage buildings.

Assistant County Clerk Wendy Roberson said the reason they did not seriously consider expansion was they did not want to expand a building, when the surrounding property was no longer going to be county owned.

Virtuoso also demanded the county table the agreement because they were not following their own purchasing policy, which requires them to seek at least three bid proposals.

County Attorney Claude Joerg urged that this type of purchasing policy does not apply to real estate deals. He said the procurement of goods and services does not apply to the leasing of property.

Legislator Jason Zona questioned why they were leasing property for five-years, when there is still the possibility of creating a new public works facility in Cambria, where they could build on a record storage facility.

County Manager Jeffrey Glatz said record storage was not apart of the original public works facility, and would cost an additional $2 million to build on top to the $33 million for the project. Also, he said even if the started today, the public works facility would not be ready for three years.

Ulrich said county officials might feel five years is too long of a contract, but for him, once the five years are up, he will not be able to find another tenant in need for record storage space.


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