THE EDITORIAL BOARD
County Executive Mark Poloncarz has proposed moving the Social Services Department’s Child Protective Services Unit, with its 420 employees, to the pricey Fountain Plaza property owned by the politically connected Ciminelli family.
Carl Paladino, who owns the former Hens & Kelly department store building that now hosts the Child Protective Services Unit, claims that the move will cost taxpayers $4 more per square foot. Over a five year lease, that will cost county taxpayers $3 million more than they would have paid by renewing their current lease.
Instead of leasing space from either Ciminelli or Paladino, activists argue, that Poloncarz should offer a lease to a landlord in the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood, in order to make the renovation of the historic neighborhood’s large abandoned storefront buildings viable.
In an adaptation of the concept advanced last year by Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, a State Senator-elect, the activists see the neighborhood as a government services hub. But rather than locating the County offices inside the Broadway Market, the leases should be used to catalyze investment opportunities.
Moving the bulk of the County’s operations to the neighborhood would serve as the anchor tenant of the East Side’s revival. It would also free up valuable real estate downtown, where the market for new residential space has been strong.
From the Board of Elections, to Central Police Services, to Emergency Services, to Environment and Planning — with only county departments relating to the courts left downtown, two thousand employees can spark new vibrancy in the city’s most struggling neighborhood.