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Legislature split on $1.3 M garage, but project will be built

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    Greene County lawmakers were divided Wednesday over an amendment to remove a $1.3 million garage from the plans for the new jail. Sarah Trafton/Columbia-Greene Media
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March 21, 2019 10:02 pm

CATSKILL — A $1.3 million garage for the new Greene County jail in Coxsackie will be built after an amendment to withdraw it from the plans was defeated in a 7-7 vote of the Legislature on Wednesday.

Although the vote tied, the deadlock was broken and the amendment defeated by invoking the Legislature’s weighted voting system, which is based on the population of each legislative district.

Legislator Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill, offered the resolution to remove the garage. The resolution was defeated in the Public Safety and Finance committees on Monday.

Legislator Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, who supported the amendment, offered an explanation to his colleagues.

“This is not to say we won’t put a building there,” he said. “We want to look at where we can save.”

Legislators Luvera, Bulich, Linda Overbaugh and Jack Keller, all R-Catskill; Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie; Thomas Hobart, R-Coxsackie; and Patricia Handel, R-Durham; voted in favor of the amendment.

Legislators William Lawrence, R-Cairo; Harry Lennon, D-Cairo; Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore; Ed Bloomer, R-Athens; James Thorington, R-Windham; Larry Gardner, D-Hunter; and Gregory Davis, R-Greenville voted against the resolution.

The officials then had to vote on a resolution to authorize the seven bid packages.

Luvera, Bulich, Keller, Martinez, Hobart and Handel opposed the resolution, despite being in favor of the jail.

“I’ve been for the jail right from the get-go,” Martinez said. “We’re going down a dangerous path here. We’re not doing away with the garage, we want to put it aside to study it more.”

Luvera agreed.

“This is wrong,” he said. “We have an opportunity to use conservative thinking to find better alternatives for something that is not even used currently.”

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office does not have a current central storage location for its vehicles, Sheriff Greg Seeley said Tuesday.

“Instead of being scattered around the county, they will all be right there for corrections and deputies to use for training,” he said, adding that other agencies are welcome to train at the site as well.

The building will house the sheriff’s office’s boats, all-terrain vehicles, SWAT team trucks and possibly dogs for the K9 unit, Seeley said.

The design is built to last, Seeley said.

“It’s designed to last 75 years,” he said. “We’ll never have to worry about it again.”

Handel asserted her vote did not indicate lack of support for the jail.

“I 100 percent agree we need a new jail,” Handel said. “But I think this is overkill and a disservice to taxpayers.”

Hobart agreed.

“We are responsible to the taxpayers,” he said. “It’s not their job to tack on a garage.”

The bids for the project came in $1.3 million under budget, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Monday.

“I have always been in favor of the jail,” Keller said. “But the cost of the garage is astronomical.”

Lawrence could see the reason behind the amendment, he said Thursday.

“They have a good argument for bringing down the price,” he said. “My fear is that the building won’t be put back [in the plans] in any way.”

Lawrence would have supported the amendment if a dollar amount for an altered building was included in the amendment, he said.

“I understood where they’re coming from,” he said. “I just don’t want to be short-sighted. We don’t want to find out we needed it later on.”

When visiting other facilities, a common complaint is lack of storage, Lawrence said.

Lawrence thinks hope remains that the garage can be built less expensively.

“We still have to sign contracts and review what is being built when,” Lawrence said.

The garage will likely be one of the later components to go up, he said.

“Housing prisoners is more important than housing vehicles,” Lawrence said.

The legislature can hold off on the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing to be added to the building or possibly reduce the size, Lawrence said.

“It’s 6,000 square feet,” he said. “It may be too big. I think it can be done cheaper or we can remove parts of the bid.”

The bids awarded Wednesday included off-site utility work by Bellamy Construction Co. of Scotia in the amount of $1,338,970; facility site work by James H. Maloy of Loudonville in the amount of $4,317,000; general construction work by Jersen Construction Group of Waterford in the amount of $21,089,000; food service equipment installation by David J. Hummel Enterprise of Gansevoort in the amount of $351,000; plumbing and fire protection by Ashley Mechanical Inc. of Kingston in the amount of $3,576,240; heating, ventilation and air conditioning by John W. Danforth Company of Halfmoon in the amount of $4,161,000; and electrical and security electronics by Nfrastructure Technologies of Clifton Park in the amount of $4,333,184.

Other contracts to be awarded include demolition of the former jail and fixtures, furniture and equipment for the new jail, known as FF&E costs and a gas line from Central Hudson, Groden said.

The FF&E is estimated to cost $750,000 and the gas line is projected at $385,000, with anticipated reimbursement from Central Hudson for getting additional customers, Groden said.

The new jail is set to be constructed on Route 9W in Coxsackie. The former county jail on Bridge Street in Catskill was declared unsafe in April 2018.

Construction will be funded by a 30-year $39 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an $8.1 million contribution from the county.

The project was put out to bid in seven packages in January. The county received 31 submissions by the Feb. 20 deadline.

Let's see... the county has NO new money business, no indication of any increase in property values, no tech, no hospital, no college (here), and wants a $1.3 million garage for urban attack vehicles.

Again, notice that ALL companies bidding are not Greene County companies. The interest for a loan, from USDA or any other source, also leaves the county. The Bank of Greene County is ineligible due to conflicts and banking rules.

There's almost nothing more irresponsible nor more representative of incompetent government. Mr. Groden did the same thing in Michigan and was sued, personally. (

Wake UP Greene County Residents!!! You are being saddled with a 16% tax increase for 30 years... The county's done nothing to improve our local justice system, it's only reinforcing bad behavior. The 80 Bridge Street Jail and Sheriff's office wasn't closed because the building is unsafe, it was closed because the management is unsafe. Here's the proof from NYS COC ( and here's the FOILed correspondence to and from COC (

There are two impressions of Rip Van Winkle... the eyes closed one and the eyes open one. This pathetic project is all about eyes closed. Wake Up Greene County... Now would be fine.
Token gestures to save pennies are silly when the elephant in the room is $90,000,000 of needless debt weighing upon our future taxes.
It costs us far less to formally contract our our prisoners than building this vainglorious boondoggle to placate the guard union.

It is foolish and self-destructive to spend money we need elsewhere for locating a jail in Coxsackie. $1,800,000 per guard job? Nuts! Most of these guards will be cashing out for their pensions within 5-10 years. We will be paying off this debt with high taxes to support the bond for 30 years!!!
Or not...
The immediate colloquial name for this is the Garage Mahal.
I mentioned the cost to a few public institutions here, like the public library, and got dropped jaws.