Jail to stay where it is


By David Avitabile

The flood-damaged county jail will be rebuilt in its current location as Schoharie County supervisors agreed to spend nearly $700,000 to begin the project last week.
All the funds will be reimbursable from FEMA and the state, as will the entire reconstruction project.
While the jail will be reopened on Depot Lane, there will be changes.
Flood gates and other flood mitigation devices will be added and the Emergency Management Office and the E-911 centers are likely to be moved.
Moving the two offices will be a county expense, said Treasurer Bill Cherry, who is handling the county flood recovery effort.
It was FEMA's decision to rebuild the jail in the present location, Mr. Cherry said at a special county board meeting last Tuesday.
FEMA will not pay for anything else, and the state Corrections Department has agreed with the move, he said.
Wright Supervisor Bill Goblet noted that the supervisors did not make the decision to rebuild the jail.
Supervisors agreed to pay Labella Associates $360,000 for architectural and engineering work. The construction management contract went to BBL Construction Services for $318,000. These are the same two firms handling the work at the county building.
Mr. Goblet voted against approving the bids, saying he was against putting "people in cages where they could drown," referring to the possibility of further flooding.
Mr. Cherry said there will be flood gates at the jail, county building, courthouse and county health office to mitigate high water.
The automatic flood gates will be built near entrances and lay flat when not in use and will appear to be sidewalks. When fully in place, the walls will be at least six and half feet high and higher than last year's flood, Mr. Cherry said.
Existing doors and windows will also be made flood-proof.
FEMA and the state will be paying for the flood mitigation but not the moving of the EMO and 911 offices, Mr. Cherry said.
FEMA will pay for the jail to be returned "to the day before the flood," he said, and any other changes will have to be paid for by the county.
The county has spent about $17 million in flood repairs and has thus far received $4 million from FEMA and another $1 million from the state, he said.
The county borrowed $10 million last year and "we may need to borrow more," Mr. Cherry said.
In other flood related action, supervisors agreed to send a letter to Senator Charles Schumer asking FEMA to reverse the decision not to reimburse the county for costs to board prisoners in other jails since the flood.
The boarding of prisoners is costing the county about $65,000 a month, Mr. Cherry said.
The appeal of FEMA's decision not to pay for the reconstruction of the Blenheim Covered Bridge is already underway, officials said.