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Dan Hust | Democrat

In February, county officials toured the now-closed minimum-security annex of the still-open Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg. The dormitories, seen here, are in as good a shape as the rest of the complex, which is still maintained by the state, but legislators and county leaders remain uncertain whether or not siting the new county jail here would be the most cost-effective and efficient option.

Closed annex intrigues as jail

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — March 16, 2010 — The proposed new county jail was again a topic during Thursday’s various Legislature committee meetings.
Monticello resident Tom Manza, who lives about a mile from the 50 acres the county just bought in anticipation of construction, kicked off the discussion.
He urged legislators to hire an outside consultant to study the possibility of constructing the jail at the now-closed Sullivan Correctional Facility Annex in Fallsburg, which officials toured last month.
“I see all these consultant firms for all these other things,” Manza noted, referencing a day full of consultant reports and agreements on issues unrelated to the jail.
Legislators didn’t commit to hiring such a consultant, but they did agree with Manza that the Fallsburg facility is worth further study.
Legislator Alan Sorensen liked the classroom space available at the annex, while Legislator Leni Binder, in whose district the annex sits, said the Town of Fallsburg is “very adamantly and forcefully” interested in having the jail within its borders.
“I know Fallsburg would be thrilled,” added Legislator Ron Hiatt. “They’re very anxious to have the jail over there.”
Why? According to Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Vegliante, interviewed after the meeting, “right now, it [the annex property] produces nothing for the Town of Fallsburg.”
As he sees it, the resurrection of a prison facility on the site would not only contribute to the local economy in the immediate vicinity but would save county taxpayers perhaps millions of dollars, since a variety of pre-existing buildings on the site are in good shape and thus useful.
Besides, Vegliante added, the state probably won’t let the property go to anyone else, as it’s interested in maintaining a protective buffer around the adjacent Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison.
But during the committee meeting, Manza worried that LaBella Associates, which has designed the jail for the 50-acre Monticello site, might torpedo the Fallsburg site because of the work it’s already invested.
“They work for us,” replied Binder.
“And their contract isn’t necessarily tied to size,” added Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis, who also acknowledged a need for an operations study to ensure the jail runs as efficiently as possible.
In the meantime, County Manager David Fanslau said he will file a formal report on the Fallsburg site with legislators by this week.
Contrary to initial assumptions, “we have not requested LaBella to do any analysis yet,” he added, saying that LaBella’s presence on the tour of the Fallsburg facility was just in case the county decides to move forward with that site.
That remains just one of several options, as the county is also looking at the feasibility of boarding out prisoners to Orange County, and several legislators plan to visit the Delaware County Jail in the near future.
There was some talk on Thursday of having the Division of Public Works do an on-site analysis at Fallsburg as well, but Legislator David Sager said the county should wait until it hears back from the NYS Commission of Correction about the suitability of Fallsburg’s offerings.

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