CATSKILL — Representatives of the Save the Old Jail Coalition attended the Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday night to learn where their proposal stood with county lawmakers.
Legislator Jack Keller, R-Catskill, gave Meg Nowack of Historic Catskill the floor during the meeting. Nowack, along with the Greene County Taxpayers Association headed by Wayne Sheridan, hopes to halt the demolition of the former county jail and convert the buildings into something beneficial for the community.
Nowack expressed to the board that she was nervous to get ahead of herself if demolition was imminent.
“We are in the middle of the process,” Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said.
The county recently received design plans from Barton & Loguidice, an Albany engineering firm, for parking lots with either 23 or 41 spaces.
The Legislature has reserved $500,000 for the demolition of the former sheriff’s office, the main jail complex and the D-block, which shares a wall with the sheriff’s office. The historic carriage house on the property will remain intact.
“If two weeks from now we were offered $1 million for that and we had a viable plan that came to us, I think the board would listen to that,” Linger said. “At the last meeting, a lot of board members were disappointed with what we didn’t hear.”
At a workshop meeting July 24, Nowack and Cassidy Bua of Camp Now! shared ideas for the property, including a hotel and restaurant with vocational training, and a boutique museum with rental offices for local nonprofits such as Cultivate Catskill.
During the workshop, Bua did not name what investors were going to fund the project or what the exact offer was.
From January through July 2020, Bua proposed she would coordinate with investors and run a fundraising campaign to prepare to purchase the property. Bua estimated $10 million for the purchase.
When asked which buildings in particular Bua wanted to use for the project, Bua said, “For the moment, let’s assume all of them.”
Bua asked to have a qualified engineer of her choosing to give a second opinion of the structures.
Nowack has seven meetings within the next week, including some with investors, she said Wednesday.
Linger suggested Nowack get together with Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden after her meetings.
The two agreed to set up a future meeting.
Legislator Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill, proposed another use for the property.
“Why can’t we build a new building there and keep the sheriff’s office in Catskill?” Luvera said. “I’ve been saying that since the beginning.”
The sheriff’s office moved to a temporary location at 370 Mansion St. while the new jail is being built. The new facility will house the new office.
The county is leasing the temporary office for three years at $3,800 per month for the first year, $4,200 per month the second year and $4,300 per month the third.
Security upgrades for the building cost between $60,000 and $70,000, Groden estimated.
In order to comply with County Law 216, which states: “No courthouse, civil office of the sheriff, office of the county clerk, county treasurer, clerk of the board of supervisors or board of elections, now or hereafter located in a city or village, shall be removed beyond the limits of such city or village without the approval of a proposition therefor by the affirmative vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the county voting thereon at a general or special election,” the county erected a civil office within the records room of the County Office Building at 411 Main Street, Catskill.
The civil offices processes paperwork for evictions, foreclosures, subpoenas and levies.