Nark farm added to possible jail sites


By David Avitabile

With major concerns looming about two possible jail sites in Schoharie, Schoharie County supervisors Friday agreed to add the Nark farm in Cobleskill to the list of potential locations for the new jail.
The issue about building the jail at the county-owned fire training site in Howes Cave is whether the Village of Cobleskill will allow water and sewer lines to be extended to the site, according to flood recovery coordinator Bill Cherry.
The problem with the Zicha Road site off Route 7 is that the county has not been able to get permission to access the site.
Mr. Cherry termed the two issues as "hurdles, not roadblocks," but added that it would be prudent to add a third site to the list of potential jail locations.
"I don't want months to go by and find out they (the two sites) are not viable and we have no eggs in the basket," Mr. Cherry added. "I want to put another egg in the basket."
It is likely that supervisors will not get a full report on the three sites and a recommendation until the end of May, Mr. Cherry said Monday.
The Nark farm option could provide the county with the quickest and possibly cheapest construction, Mr. Cherry said.
The parcel is currently listed for sale by a realtor and is serviced by Cobleskill water and sewer lines, thus no special permission is needed from the village, he added.
It is a "pretty good chance" that a jail could be built on the former Nark farm for the $37 million provided by FEMA, Mr. Cherry said.
Building on the Nark location would be the least expensive of the three possibilities, he said. Water and sewer lines would have to be extended to both the fire training site and the Zicha Road location.
With no need to extend lines to the Nark farm site, the jail construction could be "fast-tracked," according to Mr. Cherry.
He did note that the reconfiguration of the difficult Route 7-Shady Tree Lane intersection would be part of the project.
It was noted Friday that $2.3 million has been approved through Bridge NY program for the replacement of the Shady Tree Lane Bridge over the Cobleskill Creek.
Members of the recovery team are still "cautiously optimistic" that the project can still go to bid this year with construction to start in 2018, Mr. Cherry said.
Another major concern with the fire training site is that the state Commission of Corrections may not approve the site for inmate housing since the site will remain in use for fire training purposes.
The state may ask that the fire training facility be moved in order for the jail to be built, Mr. Cherry added.
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.
Supervisors were split on whether to add the Nark site.
Supervisors Pete Coppolo of Middleburgh, Bill Federice of Conesville, David Simkins of Wright, Harold Vroman of Summit, and Alex Luniewski of Wright, and Peggy Hait of Jefferson voted against adding the Nark site.
Mr. Federice said the Nark site has several advantages and could be used for other uses instead of a jail.
"I just don't see it," he said.
Mr. Coppolo wondered why the county has not been able to contact the necessary people to get access to the Zicha Road property and Mr. Simkins noted that the county does not have a price for the new site.
Mr. Cherry said that that the county has "done everything possible" to contact the owners of the Zicha Road site.
Supervisors had to select a new site after they determined last fall that the Seebold site on Route 30 in Schoharie was not suitable.