CATSKILL — Asbestos abatement on the former Greene County Jail will begin Monday and demolition is expected to be complete within 90 days.
Built in 1908, the county jail and sheriff’s office on Bridge Street in Catskill are listed on state and national historic registries. The jail was closed in April 2018, following a report by Kaaterskill Associates that determined parts of the building were structurally compromised.
The demolition contract was awarded in August to Jackson Demolition Service Inc., of Schenectady, in the amount of $344,431. The company is a licensed asbestos contractor, according to the state Department of Labor.
An additional $70,253 was awarded to the company to remove the Ohio sandstone from the exterior of the building.
There are two methods of asbestos removal — wet and dry. The wet method involves spraying the asbestos with water to suppress the release of asbestos. The dry method does not use water but uses the same preventive measures required for all asbestos removal including enclosing the area with plastic sheeting, having a decontamination unit and personal protective equipment, according to asbestostesting.com.
Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said he was unsure what method will be employed.
“I don’t know what they’re going to use,” he said. “I know that they’re going to be doing [abatement] on the inside while there’s a crew on the outside removing the sandstone.”
The abatement should be complete within 30 days, and the entire demolition within 90 days, Linger said.
The county received one request for the sandstone, Linger said.
“The only request was from Stanton Cemetery Association in New Baltimore to put some benches together, so we will make sure to accommodate that,” he said.
The remaining sandstone will be stored at the county’s Building and Grounds Department on North Allen Street, he said.
Jackson Demolition Services began moving equipment on site Sept. 28, Linger said, after the county issued a Notice to Proceed on the project Sept. 25.
The county received permits for the project from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation earlier this month, he said.
Linger said there should not be any road closures, but there may be temporary traffic control as equipment is moved in and out of the jail site.
The state Historic Preservation Office recommended the county examine alternatives to demolishing the jail. An evaluation performed by the Dutch American Architectural Group in collaboration with Historic Catskill suggests the Greene County Jail may be the last of its kind.
“It seems that most of the older jails are demolished, which means that the Greene County Jail can be the only survivor of this era,” according to the agency’s report. “This fact makes the contextual value extremely high. This building matters for our heritage and has potentially world status as an example of a county jail in iron and steel from the beginning of the 1900s.”
A similar jail complex with a corresponding sheriff’s office was built in Oswego County in 1909, according to the report. It was demolished in 2018. Jefferson County also had a similar style jail, but that too no longer exists. The manufacturer, Van Dorn, was one of the most well-known producers of locks and jails in the world, according to the study.
Components of the jail would have been prefabricated in a factory in Cleveland, Ohio, before they were transported by ship to Catskill. The parts were then brought up Bridge Street by horse and wagon and assembled.
The county hired Barton & Loguidice to evaluate alternatives to demolition. To renovate the sheriff’s office and demolish the main jail complex and the D-Block would cost $4.8 million, Greene County Economic Development, Tourism and Planning Director Warren Hart said last July.
To renovate all three spaces — sheriff’s office, main jail complex and D-Block — and repurpose them as general office space, would cost $10.7 million, Hart said.
Finally, Barton & Loguidice estimated that to demolish all three buildings and develop a new 5,000-square-foot office building would cost between $1.13 million and $1.2 million, Hart said.
“Rehabilitation of the buildings is not economically feasible given the substantial cost of remediation,” Hart said. “There are no other alternatives that meets the county’s needs.”
The historic Carriage House on the property will remain intact.
The primary concern cited in Kaaterskill’s 2018 report is the wall separating from the floor on the south side of the jail.
“Our mapping of the defects shows a loss in the integrity of the connection between the floor diaphragms and the south exterior wall of 80-90%,” according to Kaaterskill’s report. “This means that under a seismic event or windstorm that would be considered possible for our area this wall could collapse.”
Kaaterskill estimated it would cost $300,000 to $400,000 to reinforce the wall.
The county is eyeing the property for additional parking and office space, Linger said.
The future office space being considered at the site would likely be occupied by the staff from the courthouse and the public defender’s office, Linger said.
Barton & Loguidice has designed two different parking lot options for the site, with either 23 or 41 parking spots. The estimate for the project is between $1.33 million and $1.9 million.