County picks Howes Cave jail site


By David Avitabile

Schoharie County supervisors Friday morning decided that the new jail will be located at the current fire training site in Howes Cave.
The new jail will cost about $44.3 million to construct leaving the county a local share of between $6 and $7 million, flood recovery coordinator Bill Cherry told supervisors.
Supervisors Friday agreed that new jail will be known as the Harvey E. Stoddard Public Safety Facility, as was the former one in the Village of Schoharie.
Supervisors also considered building the jail at the former Nark farm off of Route 7 in Cobleskill.
Though they did not make the Nark farm the first choice, they did agree, in a split vote, to make it the county’s “back up site” if there is a problem with the fire training site.
The next step in the new jail will be the purchase of the adjoining 58 acres to the fire training site currently owned by Dennis Berlin. The current selling price is $159,900, Mr. Cherry said.
Bids will be going out in about 10 months.
The relatively low land acquisition cost was one of the reasons that supervisors selected the fire training site.
Others were: a more simplified (cheaper) facade can be used, no additional archaeological or historical studies are anticipated, and no significant rock formations or karst topography are on the building site.
The site will require 1.9 mile water and sewer lines from Cobleskill at a cost of about $2.8 million.
The county’s portion should not be a long-term financial debt and not a “major hit,” Mr. Cherry said.
Tony VanGlad of Gilboa voted against the proposal to select the fire training site. Phil Skowfoe of Fulton was absent for the vote.
Water, sewer and natural gas hookups were available at the Nark Farm off of Shady Tree Lane, but there were several negatives.
Among those negatives were: because of the location being near major roads, a more expensive façade would be needed, an additional archaeological study could add another three to five months to the project, a reconfiguration to the Route 7 intersection would be needed, significant rock formations would require more sitework, and the land purchase cost would be about $660,000 for 33 acres. The cost to alter the intersection would be about $6.6 million.
Supervisors will get a cost estimate next month on adding a record storage building and a “continuity of government” facility at the fire training site.
The buildings would cost about $750,000 to $850,000 each to construct.
Supervisors considered several locations for the new jail in the towns of Schoharie of Cobleskill after the Seebold site in Schoharie was found to be unsuitable in 2016. They eliminated a site off of Zicha Road in the Town of Schoharie last month.
Mr. Cherry said no decision has been made on what to do with the former jail in Schoharie.
If the county kept the building, flood insurance would not be available and if there was future flood damage, there would be no aid from FEMA.