Penn Yan votes to move Village Court from Main to Elm Street

Gwen Chamberlain
The Maxwell Building is getting a facelift in preparation for a future sale, once the village court operations move to the Elm Street village hall.

The Penn Yan Village Board took the first steps toward moving the village court operations from the Maxwell building on Main Street to the basement of the village hall on Elm Street last week.

At its Oct. 20 meeting, the village board authorized Director of Public Works Richard Osgood to request proposals for the work that’s needed to prepare the basement space of the village hall for court operations.

Osgood estimates the cost to complete the renovations necessary to prepare the space for court is around $18,000.

Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. said the goal to have the work done will be Jan. 1, 2010. When the renovations are complete, the village board will then declare the Maxwell building as surplus, so it can be sold.

Marchionda says “a couple of people have expressed an interest” in the property on Main Street.

Area merchants and village residents have asked the village to move the court operations away from Main Street for several years. On Monday evenings, when court is in session, it’s not unusual to see a number of people gathered on the street in front of the building, and in the doorways of nearby businesses. Some individuals meet with their attorneys on the sidewalk in front of the building. At the same time, corrections officers deliver jail inmates — often in shackles — to the building for court appearances.

Village officials have looked at a number of options in the past, including moving the court to the former police office building on Basin Street, and attempting to negotiate with Yates County to hold village court in the Yates County Courthouse.

Another option that had been briefly discussed was to discontinue village court, and leave the responsibility up to the towns of Benton, Jerusalem and Milo.

Marchionda, who had originally resisted moving court to the new Elm Street building, said the village can’t wait any longer to decide the future of the court.

When the village built the new village hall, the overall capital improvement plan called for the court to be moved to the former Police Station on Basin Street. But, as funds for the capital improvement project, as approved by the village voters, dwindled, the overall plan was reduced.

Some of the work that had been planned for the Penn Yan Fire Department headquarters was eliminated, to keep overall costs down.

Other business at the Oct. 20 village board included:

• Special meeting: The board set a special meeting for Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. for the board and others to hear a presentation of the village’s financial statements by the external auditors.

• Jerusalem Sewer Contract: Marchionda and other village officials commented about the lawsuit and impasse between the village and town over the sewer contract. The board met with Attorney Ed Brockman and members of the Municipal Utilities Board in executive session before returning to regular session and making their comments. See related story.

• Appointment: The board agreed to hire Patrick Ellison as a part time police officer at a rate of $16 per hour, retroactive to Oct. 5.

• Police Benevolent Association (PBA): Trustee Nancy Taylor, chair of the Public Safety Committee, reported the management committee (Taylor, Marchionda and Vice Mayor Willie Allison) met with the PBA recently. She said the group is interested in starting contract negotiations after the first of the year. She said the group expressed concerns about staffing shortages.

• StarShine: The board approved the Yates County Chamber of Commerce request to hold StarShine from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.