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Council approves purchase of Dillon courthouse for city's public safety complex

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Mike Desmond/WBFO News
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The former Dillon Courthouse will, one day, house Buffalo's police and fire departments.

Within days, the City of Buffalo will own the the former Dillon Courthouse across Niagara Square from City Hall. The Common Council approved the deal Tuesday afternoon.The city is paying the federal government $1 for the 80-year-old structure, a building Mayor Byron Brown says is in pristine condition.

The plan is for the command structures of the Buffalo Fire Department and the Buffalo Police Department to move into the building, although it is unclear how long it might take for that to happen. Brown says having both departments under one rood will create efficiencies.

"By having the management of both departments in the same building, there will be some units that work closely together that will now be housed in the same building. So, we think investigations can become more efficient, we think management can become more efficient [and] ordering of equipment and supplies can become more efficient," Brown said following the vote.

City Hall looked at putting the combined public safety operation in the old K-Mart building on Broadway but an analysis says it would cost $31 million to expand the structure to meet the city's needs.

Brown says there will be off-street and secure parking at the new site, avoiding some of the current problems around police headquarters.

"Parking at a surface lot is more convenient, more secure than parking in a scattered fashion. So, even in terms of the parking around the facility, we will see greater efficiency. We won't see double-parked vehicles. We won't see impediments to the smooth flow of traffic," the mayor added.

Once police operations are moved, the police building at its landmark site at Franklin and Church streets will be sold for development.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.