Since the Manlius, Minoa and Fayetteville Police Departments consolidated in 1985 into the Manlius Police Department, the Town of Manlius has toyed with the idea of bringing the police department and the town offices together into one building in a centralized location.
Currently, the town pays the village of Manlius about $90,000 a year to house the police in the back section of the Manlius Village Centre on Arkie Albanese Avenue.
Following his re-election in November 2013, Town of Manlius Supervisor Ed Theobald told the Eagle Bulletin that one of his goals this term is to get the project started.
“I’d like to see our town hall and police department come together and be in one location,” Theobald said. “We’re leasing a space from the village of Manlius, and it’s very expensive. I’d like to do some research to see it there’s a current structure in the town – something centrally located. We want to find something established that we could renovate.”
In recent months, rumors have swirled that the Manlius Town Board is in the process of shopping around for sites for a new town hall. Theobald said these rumors are false and that the project is still in preliminary stages.
“It’s been discussed for so long, but no one’s taken the time to bring it together and try to get it done,” Theobald said. “It’s in discussion – I’ve talked in generalities to each of the board members… I think it’s time we at least look into it more seriously.”
Town officials have been tight-lipped and vague when asked for details about plans for a new town hall, leaving even other local leaders in the dark. When asked what could become of the current town hall, located on Brooklea Drive, if the town were to vacate the space, Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson had no answer.
“[The town] hasn’t contacted me at all, hasn’t told me what their plans are,” Olson said. “I know they’re actively looking for a site, but they haven’t asked my opinion on what would happen with the old site if they didn’t need it anymore… Every time I ask them about it, I get, ‘We’re working on it,’ but they haven’t really told me what they’re doing.”
Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall also hasn’t been filled in. If the town were to find a new location for town hall, the police department would most likely be moving out of the village’s building, leaving a large empty space for the village of Manlius to fill.
“Every time I meet with [town officials], I ask them, because I’ve heard rumors and when I ask some of them, they say, ‘We’re not moving,’ and I talk to others who say, ‘Yeah, it’ll be a few years though.’ They can never give me an exact answer,” Whorrall said.
Whorrall said he recently asked Theobald for more concrete details so that the village can begin to plan renovations for its building.
“I told him, ‘I just need to know a little more so that we can plan what we’re going to do,’” he said. “Because we’ve got a lot of work to do on our building – it needs some renovating and needs a new roof. So we don’t want to do a lot of work and then have [the police] move out and have to do more work.”
According to Theobald, sites are being considered “wherever feasible,” but that it would make sense to stay in Fayetteville, as close the center of the town as possible. He added that he hopes he’ll be able to bring up the issue to the board by the end of the year, but knows he has a lot of work to do first.
“The next step is for me to present to the board and say, ‘This is what I want to do with the police department and town hall,’” Theobald said. “And then I would have recommended steps that we could take.”
Those steps could include compiling a facility needs analysis, a guide to assist facility planners in determining whether a proposed facility is needed by the community and a request for proposal, a solicitation made by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity or valuable asset to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.
At this time, nothing has been presented to the town board yet, Theobald said.
While there’s no clear evidence that the town in zoning in on any particular site, Theobald acknowledged that the old Jay’s Village Chevrolet property at 540 East Genesee Street is one of the sites the town has thought about for a new town hall, along with the former O’Brien and Gene building down the road at 547 East Genesee Street and a vacant lot near the Northeast Medical Center off of Burdick Street.
A Freedom of Information Law request was filed with the town at the end of May for any emails, memos, notes, minutes, documents or build out plans for the property at 540 East Genesee Street in Fayetteville. It was denied by Town Attorney Steve Primo three weeks later. While not specifically denying the existence of the requested documents, Primo cited New York Public Officers Law which allows denial when such documents, “if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations.”
At this time, it’s unclear what these documents could be – Theobald hinted that build out plans may exist, but insisted that anything that’s been drafted so far has been done informally.
“There are no documents that have been proposed or presented to the board or to anybody… If there were build out plans, it would be something that is in general terms that maybe I had a chance to put together myself, but nothing official,” he said.
Theobald added that ultimately, the town will not go through with any plans to move to or build a new town hall unless the board is sure the taxpayers would be getting their money’s worth.
“I want to be sure that if this does cost the taxpayers more, that they’re getting something that is worth getting,” he said. “Otherwise we’re not going to do it. There’s no sense in doing it if doesn’t make sense tax-wise.”