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Jail relocation process begins

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    Legislators discuss options to temporarily relocate the county sheriff’s office processing and holding area at Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting.
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    Greene County sheriff’s deputies were in the audience Tuesday while lawmakers discussed relocating the sheriff’s office processing and holding area at the legislature’s Public Safety Committee meeting.
October 10, 2018 10:01 pm

CATSKILL — Lawmakers decided to move forward with plans to temporarily relocate the county sheriff’s office and processing and holding area for detainees at Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

Legislators discussed the relocation to the office of Flach Real Estate — a 3,600-square-foot building at 370 Mansion St. across from Cumberland Farms in Coxsackie — because the existing holding area needs repairs to make it through the winter and the county needs a facility until the new jail is built in Coxsackie.

No formal vote was taken on the plan.

The state Commission of Corrections approved the location at 370 Mansion St. on Sept. 28. Lawmakers also discussed the demolition of the old jail Tuesday.

“The obvious, best answer is to do it all in Coxsackie,” said Legislator Lee Palmateer, D-Athens. “What else is there to talk about?”

Legislator Kevin Lennon, D-Catskill, expressed concern the county had not fully investigated the cost of a temporary facility.

In addition to paying $4,200 a month for rent, the building must be returned to pre-existing conditions according to the contract, Lennon said.

“We don’t have a full, comprehensive report on what it is going to cost to occupy the building and put it back the way it was,” Lennon said.

Legislators Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, and Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie, plan to renegotiate the rent, they said.

The state Commission of Corrections recommended security improvements estimated to cost about $50,000, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.

“We have to replace the doors with metal ones, change the lighting and the ceiling,” he said. “With everything included, it will be in the six-figure range. We will have a full estimate by our next meeting.”

Repairs to the old holding facility on Bridge Street in Catskill include new heating, water and sewer systems.

“It would be about $300,000 and we would still need a temporary location while the repairs were made,” Groden said. “Why pay for it twice?”

Some legislators wondered about what other options are out there.

Martinez suggested the county purchased the building.

“Have we looked into portable units?” Bulich said.

“This was not an exhaustive search,” Groden said. “We have to move because of the weather. We moved quickly — this building was available, it meets the requirements. We’re running against the clock.”

Getting buildings approved by the state Commission of Corrections takes time, Groden said.

Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley will maintain an office in the Greene County Office Building at 411 Main St. in Catskill. The sheriff’s office will also have a satellite location on the second floor of the Greenville Pioneer building, 11184 Route 32, Greenville.

Groden expects the county will be in the new facility by Dec. 31, he said, adding demolishing the old jail is less time-sensitive time pressure and the process will be less costly if the decision is not divided, Groden said.

“Why don’t we give it away for $1 and let someone else worry about it?” Martinez said.

“I think if you’re looking for a consensus, we want to move to the temporary facility and demo all the buildings,” said Legislator Aidan O’Connor Jr., D-Durham.

The state Historic Preservation Office may deem that the buildings surrounding the old jail have historic value, Groden said.

“They’re old, but are they historical?” Groden asked. “I expect the carriage house will live and we will redevelop after the other three come down. It will probably start out as a parking lot and then become a new county building.”

If the house was to be saved, it would be tricky because it is attached to the old jail, Groden said.

“It would have to be rehabbed to come up to code,” he added.

Groden expects the county will send the demolition project to bid in the spring.

Groden presented to the legislators after he largely completed the process. Here's a link to the FOILed records.

a) Instead of any retained value at 80 Bridge Street, EVERYTHING is wasted
b) The Sheriff's Office can't be moved from the county seat (Catskill) without a public referendum See County Laws 216 & 217
The hox there's a civil and a criminal portion is not distinguished in the county law
c) During the discussion, we learned of the MANY satellite Sheriff's Offices — including a large one in Greeneville
ergo, the Greenville facility is a better candidate for a "processing" center — don't rent in Coxsackie!
d) "Some legislators wondered about what other options are out there." Well, Yeah! No advise and consent... just consent.
e) Wasting 80 Bridge Street (which was built at the same time and with the same methods as the courthouse and public library) is just waste. And, again, it will be shown in court that the Sheriff's Office can't be moved out of the county seat.
f) When the legislators voted 10 - 4 (9 - 5 meant failure of the required supermajority) an item was slipped in at #13 - to preclude a public referendum. This means the public is denied a chance to vote on something that drains all our social service resource for 30 years!!! $90 million including interest and not including operations or maintenance or transportation or defense or program costs...
g) Groden already spent $2.8 million on "plans" for the Coxsackie behemouth and not a shovel of dirt is turned.
h) The Coxsackie site is inappropriate, it is clay, which means no geothermal. A 6' pit must be built and filled in with gravel with the building floated on it. It's 8 million to break ground since there are no utilities there at all.
i) We don't have a need for a new jail. The current number of detainees is 51, 10 in Columbia, 40 in Ulster and 1 in Albany With bail reform, Raise The Age (removing adolescents from jail), $500,000 extra each year so Public Defenders will be at any and all court appearances, and better Alternatives To Incarceration, these numbers will drop to 40, then 30... Jail is not prison. It is a temporary holding area until a court or social services or mental health solves a challenge. These are detainees, not inmates. If a serious crime was committed, and if the person was found guilty, they are sent to prison, not jail. NYS has adequate prison facilities. We do not need and do not have the money for, a new jail. We do not need a new Sheriff's Office. We have one.
Just for the record:
“Why don’t we give it away for $1 and let someone else worry about it?” Martinez said.

Let's contemplate this for a second: Charles Martinez's approach to government is to give away an asbestos riddled wreck in the middle of Catskill Historic District to someone for "$1" and "let someone else worry about it." Who might that be - certainly not Martinez in Coxsackie - but the taxpayers in Catskill Village, which will be denied the tax compensation and be saddled with an asbestos riddled eyesore to boot.

The jail and the sheriff's building along with the carriage house have been moldering for years under the neglect meted out by Greene County that passes for responsible government. That's what caused the NY State Dept. of Corrections to cite Greene County as one of the worst jails in the state.

The $90,000,000+ final cost jail in Coxsackie will wind up costing more like $150,000,000 over time because the group lead by Martinez, Groden, Lawrence and Lewis that are gung ho for a super jail are incompetent and deluded to think that providing the many diverse services needed to deal with our detainee population can be met more cost efficiently under one new roof than farmed out to several different already built and paid for venue.

We are overbuilt with jails and facilities up state. Our only seeming deficiencies are in honesty, competent and brains in government. We need competent administrators and legislators not tens of millions of wasted dollars foolishly thrown at non-viable un-vetted and carelessly researched false solutions.