March 2, 2010
New DMV building opens to rave reviews
Customers, staff say River St. location more accommodating than prior office in courthouse
Cortland resident Matt Faberzak came to renew his license plates for his work trailers Monday at the new Department of Motor Vehicles office on River Street.
“It was the fastest DMV visit I ever had,” Faberzak said as he was leaving. “I have never walked in and out within five minutes.”
The agency held its grand opening Monday after officially opening for business Friday at 112 River St., off Port Watson Street. The DMV was previously located in the County Courthouse basement.
DMV Director Anthony Camilli said the atmosphere is “a lot better” in the new building.
“The setup is better than what we had and I think the flow will be better, too,” Camilli said, referring to the split room at the prior location.
The 7,500-square-foot building houses the DMV and the county Board of Elections. The Board of Elections opened Feb. 16 after moving from the first floor of the County Office Building.
The $1.6 million project is funded with part of the county’s $2.8 million share of state tobacco settlement funds, which the county received in 2005.
County Clerk Betsy Larkin said the DMV’s transition to the new location has gone smoothly and the few quirks will be worked out shortly, such as signs that have to be put up.
The building’s entrance sign must go out to bid, an action the Legislature will vote on at the March 25 meeting. The drive-thru window was also closed for the first half of Monday because a sign announcing what transactions could be taken at that window was buried in snow.
Larkin said patrons can use the drive-thru window for license plate surrenders, registration renewals, paperwork drop-offs such as bulk deliveries from car dealerships, and any transactions that can be done by mail.
On Monday, the office had four tellers handling all operations and another teller at the information window.
In the Courthouse, there were tellers on either side of the room handling all transactions, which Camilli said was confusing to customers.
The new location also has a small testing room for people to take the written portion of their driver license test. Previously people would sit out in the open room to take the test, Larkin said.
Larkin said sharing the facility with the Board of Elections has also been advantageous. The space is split evenly between the two organizations.
Since the DMV paperwork offers people the option to register to vote, Larkin said the close quarters now eliminates the need to transfer the forms for the voter registration requests between buildings.
“Now we just walk straight across (to deliver them),” Larkin said.
Groton resident Ed Kelly said the office was a nice change from the basement location.
Kelly came to switch registrations from one vehicle to another and said that he liked not having to go through a metal detector, as was required at the previous Courthouse entrance.
“I just won’t get to see my cousin who works there,” Kelly said.
A newcomer to Cortland, Reggie Gladle, said he came to the DMV Monday to transfer his Arizona driver license to New York and he found the new location easier to navigate.
“It seems like the new location should serve a better purpose, there is better parking and it is more convenient,” Gladle said.
Legislators will discuss what to do with the vacated spaces in the County Office Building and Courthouse at committee meetings this month.
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