CATSKILL — Construction began Monday of a new civil office that will be used by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
Crews are working to build the civil office, which processes paperwork for evictions, foreclosures, subpoenas and levies, in the records room in the Greene County Office Building, 411 Main St., Catskill.
A working civil office is another step in clearing the way for the state Commission of Corrections to approve a new county jail to be built in Coxsackie without violating county laws.
Those laws mandate the sheriff’s office cannot move its civil services out of Catskill — the county seat — without a public referendum.
After months of standing-room-only public hearings and heated debate among lawmakers over the proposal’s merits, the Greene County Legislature voted 10-4 to construct a new jail in Coxsackie because the former jail on West Bridge Street in Catskill was closed down April 20 after it was deemed unsafe.
The new civil office is expected to be completed in mid-January, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Thursday.
“There is no rush,” he said. “The existing house [where the current sheriff’s office is located] is mostly OK — unlike the jail.”
The work is being done in-house by county buildings and ground employees, Groden said.
“It will be low-cost,” he said, estimating materials for the civil office project in Catskill will total around $2,000.
“They put up three walls,” Groden said. “They just need to set up a computer and telephone and move in with their filing cabinets.”
County officials in October approved a three-year lease on a temporary processing facility in Coxsackie while the new jail is constructed.
“It will be much more expensive,” Groden said, regarding the renovations at the Coxsackie site, which are expected to wrap up the first week in January. “We have to make security upgrades, have cameras, doors that lock electronically.”
Rent for the building at 370 Mansion St. in Coxsackie will be $3,800 per month for the first year, $4,200 per month the second year and $4,300 per month the third, Legislator William Lawrence, R-Cairo, said in October.
Security improvements were estimated to cost $50,000, with total upgrades in the six-figure range, Groden said in October.
In October, Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley announced plans to have an additional satellite office on the second floor of The Greenville Pioneer Building at 11184 Route 32 in Greenville.
“I’m a firm believer in satellites,” Seeley said Dec. 10. “If I could have a deputy in every town, I would.”
The sheriff’s office has satellites in Prattsville, Ashland, New Baltimore and Greenville, and will soon have one in Coxsackie with its civil office staying in Catskill, Seeley said.
Satellite offices improve response times and also help the community feel more comfortable with police presence, Seeley said.
“We solve more burglaries by interacting with the community,” Seeley said, adding that people are more likely to give tips to the police if they feel comfortable.
Keeping the civil office in Catskill will be convenient for residents, the sheriff said.
“They can just walk around the corner from DMV,” he said. “It’s all about the convenience of it. We work for the people. Whatever we do is to make your life easier. It’s a win-win for the citizens of Greene County.”