CATSKILL — The $1.3 million Greene County jail garage will be built.
With construction of the new jail in full swing in Coxsackie, several Greene County legislators decided to have one last go at removing the garage Wednesday night.
The effort failed and the garage, which will contain restrooms and climate control, will be constructed on the jail site.
The Legislature deadlocked 7-7 over the garage in March, with legislators Matthew Luvera, Michael Bulich, Linda Overbaugh and Jack Keller, all R-Catskill; Charles Martinez and Thomas Hobart, R-Coxsackie; and Patricia Handel, R-Durham, voting in favor of removing the garage from the jail plans. Legislators William Lawrence, R-Cairo; Harry Lennon, D-Cairo; Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore; Ed Bloomer, R-Athens; James Thorington, R-Windham; Larry Gardner, D-Hunter; and Gregory Davis, R-Greenville voted against the resolution to remove the garage.
Luvera opened up discussion on the topic during a Public Safety Committee meeting.
“It’s just more redundancy and duplicity of what we already have,” Luvera said. “We have a training facility in Cairo and in the jail. Why do we need another one?”
If the garage was needed for storage purposes, Luvera suggested the county look for a cheaper option, such as the Morton Building that will be going up in Coxsackie for the highway department at a cost of $200,000.
Luvera said he is not sure why the proposed garage needs restrooms and an HVAC system.
“If they need to use the restroom, I’m sorry but they can walk across the parking lot and go into the jail facility,” Luvera said. “Why do we need heating and cooling if we’re storing a boat?”
Luvera questioned where the equipment for the sheriff’s office is being stored.
Some of it is kept in a Morton Building at the 911 Dispatch Center, while some is stored outside, Lennon said.
Handel agreed with Luvera.
“I could understand having a garage there,” she said. “I don’t get heating and cooling it, plumbing it,” she said. “To me that’s overkill. I don’t think the boat minds if it’s hot or cold. I think this is a good way to show taxpayers we are very conscious of where their money is going.”
“I’m not arguing that we need a garage,” he said. “But we don’t need the need the Taj Mahal.”
Davis read a memo from the sheriff’s department, which elaborated on why the building needed to be climate-controlled. Vehicles stored in the garage will contain DNA and other temperature-sensitive evidence, Davis said.
The space will be used for K9 and SWAT training, Davis said, and will include an area to bathe the dogs and kennel them.
Bulich questioned the need for the equipment in the first place.
“When I’m out on the river I see the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, Ulster County, Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, State Police, DEC, the Coast Guard, all within the 24 miles of navigable river in Greene County,” Bulich said. “That’s a $250,000 boat. Why do we have a SWAT team that never gets used? Now we’re going to pay for a garage to store everything.”
Bulich disagreed with the expense.
“This is the last time in 12 years this department has done nothing but expand,” he said. “If it’s not being used, we shouldn’t have it.”
Going forward with the garage was a disservice to the taxpayers, Bulich said.
“Taxpayers may not know what a jail costs but they know what a damn garage costs,” Bulich said.
The garage design was based on suggestions from other jail administrations in the state, Linger said.
Bulich criticized this strategy.
“Stop falling for the special interests of the departments,” he said.
Taking their suggestions into account was a way to prepare for the future, Linger said.
“I don’t know what the regulations will be in 20 years but we need to plan for it” Linger said.
The only way to pull the plug on the garage was for one of the garage-supporters to offer a resolution.
No legislators offered a resolution.
“Duly noted,” Luvera said.