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Buying old jail is seed of a good idea

June 6, 2019 06:19 pm Updated: June 6, 2019 11:21 pm

All efforts to pause the construction of a new Greene County jail were unsuccessful, although two downstate assemblymen are trying to clarify and amend a law on sharing a jail with another county. If the law is amended before the jail groundbreaking later this month, this story might take yet another astonishing twist.

Until then, we can take a look at an interesting development involving the former Greene County Jail. A group led by Cassidy Bua, of Catskill, is interested in buying the old jail and property. It’s too early to talk money and the plan is in its infancy, Bua warned, but there is cause for optimism. After months of fighting tooth and nail to stop a new jail, some people want to salvage something good from the old one.

But the transaction might take some time to complete, if it does. Deputy Greene County Administrator Warren Hart said Wednesday the property is not for sale, and the final word on what happens to the building and property belongs to the county Legislature.

One of the group’s ideas is to convert the old jail into a criminal justice museum, Bua said. The museum would contain a research center and offer vocational training.

This is the seed of a good idea. Now, all it needs to blossom is money, a solid plan and hard work to convince the county Legislature. That will be a tall order, since lawmakers seem determined to transform the property into a parking lot.

Gazing into the future, a museum would fit into Catskill’s improving quality of life, and a corridor that already has Lumberyard and the Bridge Street Theatre. It’s just an idea today, but there is nothing wrong with having a dream.

The value of the 80 Bridge Street facility was never established. There was never a legitimate engineering/architecture assessment to rehab the building, which was built at the same time and with the same methods as the courthouse and library. If the new portion is removed (it's the part that's really falling apart) and the old portion updated (like the library and courthouse was), we accommodate our security needs and stay within law. The law requires the Sheriff's Office to stay in the county seat. And, we avoid the monster in Coxsackie.