CATSKILL — Greene County lawmakers, builders and architects are scheduled to meet at least one more time to agree on design cuts to the proposed new county jail as a way of shaving its $51.4 million cost, but one Coxsackie legislator does not plan to attend.
The meetings are scheduled to take place at the Greene County Office Building on Main Street in Catskill today and Wednesday.
Legislator Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie, said he will not be at today’s meeting.
“What’s the sense of going?” Martinez said. “It’s not going to change anything.”
Much of what was cut from the design was a case of nickel-and-diming and doesn’t result in any real savings, Martinez said. Bills from the architect and construction manager are putting a strain on the county, he added.
“They’ve got to do something,” Martinez said. “The more they drag their feet, the more it’s going to cost.”
The Greene County Legislature’s Finance Committee shelved a resolution May 14 authorizing $51.4 million in serial bonds to cover the cost of building a new county jail behind the Greene Correctional Facility off Route 9W in Coxsackie to explore cost savings.
The existing Greene County Jail on Bridge Street in Catskill was ranked by the state Commission of Corrections as one of the five worst in the state in February. The jail was ordered closed April 20 for safety reasons.
Today’s meeting is not expected to go late into the day, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said, but was scheduled to go from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so lawmakers working during the day could stop by. Any lawmakers who do not attend will be sent meeting minutes and Wednesday’s workshop, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., may be canceled.
“If they come later in the day, we would just repeat the information,” Groden said. “Half of my board have full-time jobs.”
Representatives of SMRT Architects and Engineers, P.C., of Latham, the project architect, and the Pike Company of Rochester, the construction manager, will bring back estimates of what can be saved after they made cuts to the new jail design from suggestions given at the May 30 workshop, Groden said.
“That will be the majority of the meeting,” Groden said. “It’s a pretty short list.”
Some cost-cutting ideas include shrinking the jail’s front foyer and parking lot and increasing the size of the areas for male inmates, Groden said. Fifty-four men were taken into custody in Greene County last week.
“If our population is going up again, are we building too small?” he said.
The existing design has two male inmate areas with 28 cells each and 56 beds, Groden said, adding state Commission of Correction officials do not want jails to be 90 percent occupied.
“In theory, we were above our maximum threshold,” Groden said of the design. “At some point, the COC may want us to board out if we exceed our capacity.”
The jail population fluctuates, and it may be better to think long-term of how big to build, Groden said.
“Your inmate count could swing a lot in a couple days,” he said.
The biggest potential cost-saving measure was removing the Greene County Sheriff’s Administrative Office at $2.9 million, Groden said.
“Some of the things were small as well, so we have a mixed bag,” he said.
Final design decisions will not be made during the meeting because it is a workshop — not a formal Legislature session, Groden said. Each option to cut items out of the design would be included separately on the Public Safety Committee meeting agenda in July.
Legislator Larry Gardner, D-Hunter, supports a low-cost jail by shrinking the number of cells and having the fewest amenities, he said. Gardner will try to attend Tuesday’s workshop meeting.
“I made my position well-known to the leadership,” Gardner said. “They know what I want and they know what I support. What I support is the alternative that will have the least possible cost.”