CATSKILL — Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden confirmed Monday that he approved the sale at the former sheriff’s office last month, which he previously referred to as an unauthorized auction.
The former jail, at 80 Bridge St., closed in April 2018 after being deemed unfit for operation. Contractors broke ground on a new jail off Route 9W in Coxsackie earlier this month. Along with the jail, the sheriff’s office moved to Coxsackie in February, to a temporary processing center on Mansion Street. The county is leasing the building for three years until the jail, with the new office, is completed. Last week, allegations that items from the former sheriff’s office were being sold arose during a Public Safety Committee meeting.
“I actually authorized it in an email I must have read at 80 miles an hour,” Groden said Monday. “In parentheses there was wooden windows and doors that I must not have caught.”
The email was sent to Groden from the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, he said.
“I responded and told them to proceed,” he said. “I told the board I take full responsibility for it.”
The items were posted online on Auction International, Groden said.
Five doors were sold for $250, Groden said. Additionally some wood molding was sold but not picked up.
“We are asking the winners to return the items,” Groden said. “They won fair and square, so it is the purchaser’s option.”
The winners were guests at a Catskill Airbnb owned by Pat Ruck.
“A lovely couple came to stay at my Airbnb from the upstate area,” Ruck said.
Ruck has not identified the guests or where they are from.
“They told me, ‘We won this auction and we’re building a house and want to put in wonderful features,” Ruck said.
The guests told Ruck their winning bid was $700.
“They spent two days in the building [the sheriff’s office] taking doors off,” Ruck said, adding that a deputy watched over them.
The guests stayed with Ruck from June 8-10. A deputy was posted at the sheriff’s office June 10.
Ruck’s guests arrived in a compact car, so they stacked the doors and were planning to come back for them, she said.
“They were going to come back with a flatbed to take the staircase out,” she said. “And they said they were going to need helpers to take all they bid on.”
Funds from the sales were deposited at the Greene County Treasurer’s office, Groden said.
The items did not have to be surplused by the county Legislature because the value was under $10,000, Groden said.
Kitchen equipment was also sold for $5,000.
Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz has a key to the former sheriff office, Groden said.
“They have some equipment there,” Groden said. “They have a right to keep the key.”
The jail, which opened in 1905, is a historical asset to the community, local historic preservationist Meg Nowack said last month.
“The east side of the village is a nationally registered historic area,” Nowack said. “That is nothing to sneeze at.”
When the buildings were constructed, people were relying on horsepower, Nowack said.
“To ignore that legacy is irresponsible, in a sense, and it’s really sad,” she said. “They worked really hard to build those buildings and we’re just going to ignore that. It’s disrespectful.”
The village’s historic assets have decreased over time, Nowack said.
“To take another one down seems backwards to me,” Nowack said.
The Legislature will discuss the fate of the old jail at a workshop meeting on July 24 at 6 p.m.
The county’s plan is to demolish the sheriff’s office and jail but leave the historic carriage house on the property intact, Deputy Greene County Administrator Warren Hart said.
Five hundred thousand dollars has been set aside for the demolition.
Due to the historic significance of the property, the county must get permission from the state Historic Preservation Office and the village planning board for demolition, Nowack said.
Birchwood Archaeology evaluated the old jail property for significant artifacts and found nothing of importance, Hart said in June.
“Now they are looking at the structure itself,” he said.
The county does not have firm plans for the property at this time, Hart said.
“At the least, we ‘re going to use it for parking,” he said.
Sale of the property has to be approved by the Legislature, Hart said.
A criminal justice museum for research opportunities and vocational training and a safe space for recovering addicts, the homeless and people in need of transitional housing have been suggested as future uses.