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Greene County residents should be outraged

August 14, 2019 10:42 am

To the editor:

In reference to the article by Sarah Trafton on the Greene County Public Safety meeting, “Ideas for the Old County Jail Aired” (August 10, 2019), at which Meg Nowack, who leads the Save the Old Jail coalition (“STOJ”) and who is also the leader of the preservation group, Historic Catskill, made a short presentation seeking assurances that the historic old jail will not be torn down anytime soon. At the meeting there were mixed messages from the committee members, and, as I read this article, at least a lack of understanding of what the coalition had proposed at the Old jail Legislative Workshop on July 24; or, perhaps, a simple ignoring of that proposal, so that the county can go full bore and spend at least $500,000 (likely more) to tear down the jail, on a property assessed at $1.8 million, to build “23 or 41 parking spaces.”

This prospect should outrage every citizen and taxpayer in Greene County.

For the record, STOJ, with the full support of our Taxpayers Association, Camp Now and other members of the coalition, offered to buy the complex for $1 (or more, which price would be negotiated with the county), thereby immediately saving the county at a minimum the $500,000 demolition fee; to pay for an independent engineer’s report of the complex, not on how to demolish it, but on what would be needed to make it completely safe — STOJ would pay for the report and for the cost of any immediate repairs (if needed) to do so, again saving the County thousands of dollars; a walk-through of the old jail buildings with the STOJ engineers and our team of potential investors, to decide on what options (museum, hotel, technical school, housing for needy vets, and other options) would be best for the complex; and a commitment on the part of the County to delay the totally unnecessary demolition of the old jail complex for one year, so that the STOJ can raise the money (up to $10 million) to make the old jail complex a functional financial and cultural asset for the County, the Town and the Village of Catskill.

So, members of the Safety Committee and those present at the old jail workshop held on July 24, what do you not understand about this proposal? And why is tearing down three of those historic buildings, all of which are in the East Side National Historic District, to build parking lots, a more valuable alternative to the County and to the citizens and taxpayers of Greene County?

Wayne Sheridan

President, The Greene County Taxpayers Association

Director of Communications, SAVE THE OLD JAIL COALITON