County narrows jail search to two sites


By David Avitabile

The new Schoharie County jail will-most likely-be located in the Town of Schoharie.
County supervisors Friday debated the merits and faults of six potential sites before narrowing down the selection locations off of Zicha Road and the county fire training site in Howes Cave.
Engineers and architects will take about three months, depending on the weather, to do in-depth analyses of the two sites. Supervisors, probably next spring, will make a final selection for a new jail.
After discussing the six potential sites with engineers and architects, Summit Supervisor Harold Vroman made the motion to narrow the choice to Zicha Road and the fire training site.
According to an initial study by architects and engineers, the county fire training facility has an estimated construction cost of $39.9 to $41.9 million and the Zicha Road property has an estimated construction cost of $42.2 to $44.4 million.
The county, according to flood recovery coordinator Bill Cherry, has about $36.6 million remaining in FEMA funds for the jail project.
Water lines would have to be extended to each of the sites.
The other sites in contention were: Doc Reilly Park on Route 7, the Nark Farm site on Shady Tree Lane, the Industrial Development Agency location on Mineral Springs Roads, all three are located in the Town of Cobleskill, and the Jeff Back property in Central Bridge.
Mr. Cherry told supervisors last month that it was likely that only the IDA site could be built with the funds remaining from FEMA, and all the others would require a county share.
Schoharie Supervisor Chris Tague and Sheriff Tony Desmond spoke highly of the Zicha Road location.
Mr. Tague noted that the Zicha Road site was ranked second behind the Seebold site, the county's first choice, in the original study.
Though the Zicha Road site may require county funds to construct, it will be the right choice, he added.
"It's not all about cost. It may cost a little more," Mr. Tague said.
Middleburgh Supervisor Pete Coppolo suggested that cuts can be made to the project to fit it within the budget.
The jail, Sheriff Desmond said, should not be in Cobleskill because there are other police agencies covering that area.
"The people in the southern end of the county deserve swift police coverage," he said
Though supervisors selected the two for further study, Mr. Cherry noted that no site among the six is perfect.
There are three choices to run water to Zicha Road: from the Village of Cobleskill, the Village of Schoharie, or Central Bridge.
The line from Schoharie would have to be extended about four miles, and the line from Cobleskill would have to be extended by just over four miles, according to Mr. Cherry.
There are questions about the water in Central Bridge, though Mr. Tague said that improvements will be made. More funds would be needed if the jail was put on this water service.
The water line from Central Bridge would only have to be extended by about a mile.
The water line to the fire training site, which is owned by the county, would only have to be extended by about a mile.
The biggest question about the fire training site is the existence of federal wetlands on the location.
Engineers said the jail would not affect the fire training center.
The jail, they explained, would be built on a plateau on the site, above the training center. Some excavation would have to be done into the hillside to accommodate the jail.
Jefferson Supervisor Peggy Hait noted that there are few neighbors around this site so lights would not be a problem.
Mr. Tague said the same could be said of the Zicha Road location.
With questions looming about each of the six potential sites, Phil Skowfoe of Fulton asked the engineers what kind of guarantee would the county get that when site is selected, "were not going to have an extenuating circumstances" like the Seebold site.
Engineers said that though they will be as diligent as possible, there is no guarantee.
Supervisors had to select a new site after they determined last month that the Seebold site on Route 30 in Schoharie was not suitable.