09 July 2009

Supes seek cover behind DASNY; prep to move DSS will not stop

From the July 9 edition of the Register-Star:
Supervisor Doug McGivney, D-Kinderhook, introduced a new resolution at the last minute at the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Full Board meeting Wednesday evening. . . .

'We have a number of projects we need to finance,' said Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Baer, R-Hillsdale. DASNY has worked with the county before. 'We’re not stopping anything,' he said, 'just having a third party look at options. By having this third party group, hopefully it will take some of the contentiousness out of the discussion going forward.'

. . . Baer said he hopes to look into bonding to fund projects such as the renovation of the County Courthouse, which is not handicap accessible, and the proposal to move the Department of Social Services to the former Ockawamick school building.

'That’s one of the areas I think they would provide us potentially with some assistance,' he said. 'I think we’re going to expose them to the process that the Board went through, let them take a look at the data, and if they can come up with some other option, then we’re certainly going to listen to it.'

'At the same time, we’re not going to pull the emergency brake and stop all our actions with respect to engineering and design with respect to Ockawamick,' said Baer. . . .

The resolution was presented to the Democratic caucus without prior notice, just before the full board meeting Wednesday night. The full text of the resolution (put forward by McGivney and seconded by Supervisor William Hughes, D-Hudson4) follows.

Whereas, Columbia County is faced with several capital projects involving space needs for offices as well as undressed historical needs. Those projects are:

1. Department of Social Services
This is a situation involving the expiration of a long term lease in 2011. The leased building is in poor condition, not capable of expansion and is too small for current operations. Through in-house expertise with some hired appraisers and engineering firms, phase 1 environmental studies and appraisals were obtained and analyzed on several alternative sites and buildings. No suitable buildings were found within the City of Hudson, but an unused school of 77,000 square feet with 20 plus acres of land was located about 6 miles from Hudson. It was purchased for 1.5 million dollars; with a view to renovation for the housing of DSS as well as other county agencies. A satellite DSS office was anticipated for the City of Hudson, based on a concentrated need.

2. Columbia County Court House
There has been an outstanding consent order to provide handicap accessibility. In addition, the NYS Office of Court Administration desires multimillion dollar improvements. We have the money for the handicap improvement but will have to borrow the money for the OSC improvements.

3. Office of the District Attorney
The District Attorney has, for years, been squeezed into an old jail building, which has been totally inadequate. This inadequacy is to the extent of being an embarrassment and danger to those using the building.

4. Homeless housing
The number of homeless has doubled in the last 2 years. The cost of temporary shelter obtained by renting hotel rooms is approaching 1.4 million dollars per year. The situation is growing. A temporary solution has been suggested by the DSS Commissioner -- through the mechanism of a long term agreement by which a guaranteed occupancy rate would be assured -- and a discounted room rate obtained. This solution was found undesirable by the City of Hudson leadership.

5. 610 State Street
Is a building owned by the County in the City of Hudson that may be sold and returned to the tax rolls if certain departments were relocated to the renovated school site.

6. Senior housing
There is a recognized need to address senior housing of all types for our aging population and our Pine Haven Nursing Home is a facility needing eventual (not immediate) rehabilitation to meet current senior needs.

Whereas, several plans and proposals have been put forth but have also generated public controversy leading to a divisive and sometimes contentious community atmosphere,

Whereas, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York offers many services to municipalities concerning the office and building needs in the form of study, planning, advising, consulting and even building and financing of needed buildings.

Now Therefore, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors endorses the concept of exploring the obtaining and retention of the services of the DASNY for the purposes of review, study and recommendations concerning all aspects of building or capital needs of Columbia County.

[July 8, 2009]

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