Cherry calls Guilford inspection "vindictive"


By Jim Poole

Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry charged Monday that a codes inspection of Guilford Mills is a vindictive act by Cobleskill Mayor Mark Galasso.
But Mayor Galasso fired back that the timing of the inspection, which came just 12 days after the two men clashed at a county Board of Supervisors meeting, is merely coincidental.
The two leaders have been at odds over whether the county should hold a second-position mortgage on Guilford, which Butternuts Beer and Ale is trying to buy.
Mr. Cherry and Mayor Galasso argued bitterly at the July 19 county meeting. Mayor Galasso pointed out then that because the county owns the Guilford building, the county must maintain it:
"If you don't sell you must fix the building," he told supervisors on the 19th.
Some at the meeting took that as a low-level threat.
"I assumed he said that in the heat of the moment," Mr. Cherry said Monday. "The worst part? He meant it."
Although Guilford lies in the Village of Cobleskill, the state Department of State conducts fire and building inspections on county-owned buildings.
Village Codes Officer Mike Piccolo said he contacted state inspector Thomas Romanowski on June 23 "about some concerns about the building."
Agreeing with Mr. Piccolo, Mayor Galasso said inspections must be done every three years, and "the timing was just coincidental" with the contentious July 19 meeting.
"I don't believe it a bit," Mr. Cherry responded.
He felt Mayor Galasso threatened the inspection if supervisors didn't go along with his stance on the Guilford mortgage.
"He was openly threatening. It was really off the charts," Mr. Cherry said. "He was going to sic the codes officer on us. It was very unprofessional."
Mayor Galasso denied the threat and said he wanted only for the building to be maintained so it could be sold.
"I flatly deny it was malicious," he said. "I just want the county's asset in safe condition."
Mayor Galasso also denied being vindictive, adding that he just wanted the county "to do what it was supposed to do.
"Do I want to make sure that property's taken care of properly? You betcha."
Mr. Romanowski cited the county for Guilford's unlocked doors and having combustible material inside. The county must erect signs noting the sprinkler system is disabled, his report said.
The "combustible material," which must be removed, are household items collected by a group for Irene victims.
Supervisors already ordered the group to remove the items by September 1, Mr. Cherry said.
"The unintended consequence of Mayor Galasso's action is that it will be done faster," he said.
The county must remedy the violations within 30 days, and Mr. Cherry said resolving the problems would cost little or no money.
Another issue, Guilford's leaky roof, wasn't listed as a violation, but Mr. Romanowski will continue to monitor it, a State Department spokesman said.
There will be another state inspection in 30 days.