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Antes up for jail site

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — June 22, 2010 — Despite the fact that half the County Legislature remains interested in alternative sites, legislators on Thursday unanimously authorized an additional $820,000 bond to pay the outstanding balance on the proposed Monticello location of the new county jail.
An arbitrator ruled recently that the county owes $900,000 more on the 40 acres it purchased for $1.07 million several months ago.
Yet even though legislators the week before had expressed reservations about committing to the use of that acreage – located off Route 17’s Exit 104 – they agreed to the bonding, as it’s a result of binding arbitration.
In the meantime, the county awaits word from the state on its willingness to part with the now-closed annex of the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg.
Waste fee appeals decided upon
A number of appeals to the solid waste user fee were “re-grieved” and have now won approval.
According to Deputy Treasurer Nancy Buck, who works on the committee reviewing the appeals, three dozen property owners paid personal visits to the committee to contest the initial denial of their fee appeals.
Two dozen of those simply got another denial, but the remaining dozen earned approvals for their efforts at Thursday’s full County Legislature meeting.
Among those dozen were St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Wurtsboro and Cochecton Mills, who successfully argued that some of their properties did not generate trash. Those parcels’ fees were dropped to zero, though both the church and Cochecton Mills are still paying on their main buildings.
Fifteen other properties also garnered approvals, albeit having just been grieved. Four of those included Sullivan County itself, as fees had been inadvertently assessed on actual county roads.
As with the re-grieved parcels, some (like the roads) were dropped to zero, while others are now paying a reduced fee.
Still, 13 more just-appealed properties didn’t merit approvals, so the total impact of the approved fee reductions came to about $7,500.
Strategic Plan adopted
Also on Thursday, legislators unanimously adopted the county’s Strategic Plan for the next two years.
Though funds are in short supply, department heads and county staff had pitched their wish lists to legislators, and those lists largely remained intact.
Energy-efficiency consultant Dick Riseling was hoping his Sullivan Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) would land the No. 1 spot on the priority list for the Office of Sustainable Energy, but it was supplanted by retrofitting existing county buildings with energy-efficient equipment.
Legislator Ron Hiatt said that was simply out of practicality, as the retrofits are farther along than the just-proposed SWEEP initiative.
And that by no means is a sign of SWEEP’s death, especially with the state considering funding it through the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
“I think most of my fellow legislators are strongly interested in pursuing it, if feasible,” observed Hiatt.
Developer at Apollo
Legislators also unanimously authorized issuing a request for proposals for a “master developer” at the old Apollo Mall site in Monticello.
Such a person or organization would oversee the redevelopment of the plaza and the former landfill behind it, all of which the county now owns.

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