Supervisors say no to letter on Camp Summit


By David Avitabile

For the second time this year, Schoharie County supervisors last week agreed not to consider the former Summit Shock facility for almost any purpose.
Board Chairman Harold Vroman last Tuesday pushed for the board to send a state of inquiry to the letter about possibly leasing a portion of the old prison but the motion was defeated in a split vote.
In April, supervisors agreed to only consider leasing a portion of the facility for a cell tower and not take it over as a county building.
Instead of voting along party lines as sometimes happened in the past, last week's vote followed the lines of those who have filed the lawsuit against Mr. Vroman to force him to return county committees to their original configuration in January.
Voting against sending the letter were the eight supervisors suing Mr. Vroman. Though voting in favor of the letter were those who did not sign on to the lawsuit.
At a special meeting last week, Mr. Vroman said the state is ready to put the building up on the auction block.
He was not specific on how the county could use the building but he said he thought it could be used for some offices in addition to possibly using it for communications.
Some supervisors agreed that a lease should be explored while others felt the building needed too much work and was not in the right location for county services.
Earl VanWormer of Esperance, Larry Bradt of Carlisle, Phil Skowfoe of Fulton, and James Buzon of Middleburgh argued against sending a letter.
Mr. VanWormer said the plant was an older facility that had several problems and was too far from other county activities.
The county fire training site in Howes Cave would be a better option if the county has space needs, he said.
The county has several pending bills and does not need any more costs, Mr. Bradt said.
He said he did not want the county to commit to "more than it can handle."
The county is facing costs for the Route 7 water and sewer project, a stream stabilization project, the rebuilding of the county building and the jail, and tax breaks for flood victims, he said. "How much can this county bear? No more commitments," Mr. Bradt said.
Mr. Buzon said the site should be used for a possible cell tower only and "nothing else."
Mr. Skowfoe said the issue was voted on in April.
The issue, he said, "was put to bed and should stay there."
Bob Mann of Blenheim noted that the board has reconsidered votes in the past and that was what was happening in this case.
Dan Singletary of Jefferson also spoke in favor of sending the letter.
It would be in the best interest of the taxpayers "not to cross any facility off," he said.
"We're not committing to anything. We're just inquiring. I don't see how we can go wrong. What's the big deal with a letter?"
Sending a letter to the state would "keep our foot in the door," said Tony VanGlad of Gilboa.
He did add that he did not know about using the site for a jail.
"It was an option the county needed to leave open," Mr. Vroman said Sunday.
The former jail, which has a kitchen and sleeping facilities, could be used for an emergency operations center, which the county lacks, he said. Also, 911 dispatching "needs a place."
"It was just a letter to get new information," Mr. Vroman said.
He said it is his job to look for options for the county.
"When you've been in a down situation, you have to keep looking ahead," he said.
County Treasurer Bill Cherry, who is coordinating the county's rebuilding efforts, said there are no plans to rebuild the jail in any other site but the current one on Depot Lane in Schoharie.
FEMA, the state emergency management office and other agencies are in favor of rebuilding the jail in the current location, he said.
"It is a sure thing," he added.