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May 4, 2014

Deadline looms for Reserve Center

MALONE — Franklin County’s district attorney urged legislators to decide if they would take ownership of a surplus government building.

Derek Champagne is moving closer to obtaining the former Lockwood U.S. Army Reserve Center on Finney Boulevard, which was deemed surplus property by the federal General Services Administration.

It was built in 1961 and has a 24,000-square-foot training building and 3,200-square-foot maintenance building on a little more than 4 acres of land.

INTENDED USES

The DA hopes to house at least three county functions there:

• A law-enforcement intelligence center he is developing with state and federal authorities and a new headquarters for the county’s Narcotics and Border Task Force, which he oversees.

• Franklin County Public Nursing Services, which could use the Reserve Center’s existing medical clinic, refrigeration units and secure storage.

• Storage for County Emergency Services equipment and vehicles, now scattered at fire departments and other sites around the county.

REGULATIONS

Champagne recently urged legislators to form a committee to look at the best way to reuse the site because he can’t solidify his plans without that information.

He plans to use cash and other asset-forfeiture profits from drug-dealer busts to fund building renovations but said he doesn’t want to waste that money on renovations if he can’t fully conform to government regulations on the building’s reuse.

When the federal government deems a building surplus, it gives first reuse priority to entities that work with and support the homeless.

Law-enforcement purposes are the next priority if homeless advocates can’t afford to take on the care and maintenance of such a huge property, which was the case in Malone.

Champagne said that if he uses the site for law enforcement, the building must be used that way forever.

But if the Nursing Service is a tenant, it must stay 30 years.

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