By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Legislators want the public to weigh in on District Attorney Jim Farrell’s proposal to mandate a 15-day waiting period on jewelry sold to local pawn shops.
Farrell pitched the idea on Thursday at the Public Safety Committee meeting as another way to clamp down on the escalating burglaries in the county.
The law, if enacted, would more heavily regulate dealers of secondhand precious metals and gems, requiring them to hang on to items they buy or trade for 15 calendar days plus take photos of each item and record any inscriptions.
Such dealers would have to apply to the county for a license, which would cost $200 initially and then $100 annually thereafter. They’d also have to submit a bond or other surety totalling $2,000.
Farrell said such a law would give the police and his office a far better chance to track down and successfully prosecute burglars and the dealers who help them.
Indeed, any dealer convicted of violating the law could be arrested on a misdemeanor charge, jailed for up to one year and fined as much as $500 per day per offense.
The law does not cover other fenceable items like copper piping, but legislators seemed inclined to move it forward.
“It shows we’re serious about this in Sullivan County,” said Legislator Cindy Gieger.
Sheriff Michael Schiff and County Manager David Fanslau indicated they support the concept, too, but Fanslau worried about adding both expense and time to the Public Safety Office which as the law is currently written would handle the applications. He urged a fiscal analysis first.
Public Safety Commissioner Richard Martinkovic said he wouldn’t have a problem handling the applications themselves as there are only around a dozen such dealers in Sullivan County.
But he feared the compliance enforcement side, for which his one-man office simply doesn’t have the time.
Farrell said he considered handling those duties in the DA’s Office but worried about the legality, as that could constitute a conflict of interest if and when his office has to prosecute.
Schiff offered to look into running it from the Sheriff’s Civil Division, and Legislator Alan Sorensen encouraged investigating sharing the service with Orange County, which has such a law in effect.
But the majority of legislators seemed most interested in Fanslau’s suggestion of giving the duties to the County Clerk’s Office, which already handles pistol permits and the like.
In the meantime, the county has posted the proposed law on its website, www.co.sullivan.ny.us, and a hearing is set for Thursday, March 15 at 1:50 p.m. at the Government Center in Monticello.
Apollo moving ahead?
Though a resolution pertaining to it was tabled on Thursday, the Apollo Mall’s redevelopment may be a step closer to reality.
At the Executive Committee meeting, a resolution was presented to extend the time the county and the developer, Chancellor-Livingston, have to consummate a deal.
The county had until December 31 to transfer the Apollo property to the Sullivan County Funding Corporation (SCFC), a county agency comprised entirely of the Industrial Development Agency staff and board and primarily tasked with handling the sale/lease with Chancellor-Livingston.
The resolution would extend that to March 31.
Chancellor-Livingston already has a proposed sale/lease agreement in hand, but this resolution would allow them to formally negotiate it with the SCFC.
The resolution also contains language providing for a “not-for-profit use” of the former theater, which rests on an acre across the Apollo’s parking lot.
A YMCA planned for that site generated controversy last year, as several legislators and local residents objected to a non-profit on land intended to be a major tax- and revenue-generator for the county.
But Legislator Ira Steingart said Chancellor-Livingston is convinced such a facility will benefit the redeveloped mall. It’s planned to contain a daycare and a full slate of YMCA offerings to attract both mall employees and visitors, especially those with children.
However, the resolution never made it out of the committee Thursday, as Legislator Cora Edwards moved to table it, since she had yet to read it in its entirety.
Legislators Steingart, Jonathan Rouis and Alan Sorensen were against tabling, but they were overruled by their colleagues.
A move to table prohibits further discussion, so the matter will likely be taken up at next week’s second meeting of the Executive Committee, slated for noon on Thursday, February 16 at the Government Center in Monticello (replacing the non-public Steering Committee, which Legislator Sorensen successfully ended).
Grahamsville resident Ken Walter, however, hinted that the controversy may not be over.
“This seems to be a change of direction,” he observed during the committee’s public comment period. “... To segregate a piece [of the property] off for a not-for-profit is against what the people wanted.”
A plea from EMS
Thursday’s Public Safety Committee meeting also featured a request from EMS Advisory Board representative Albee Bockman that the new Legislature work with his group.
“I’m here on behalf of the 17 EMS [Emergency Medical Services] agencies in our county,” said Bockman, who runs the MobileMedic service.
Bockman lamented the former Legislature’s and current EMS coordinator’s lack of involvement and communication with the advisory board, which nearly led to its permanent disbanding.
“We’re like the forgotten child,” he stated.
“The bottom line is, your EMS board needs you and needs you to listen to what it needs and wants to do,” Bockman urged.
He invited legislators and the public to the next meeting of the board, to be held in the Government Center in Monticello at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2.
Redistricting at hand
Just like their state and federal counterparts, legislators will begin discussing the boundaries of the county’s nine legislative districts.
Each district has to encompass an equal amount of the county’s population, as calculated in the latest (2010) census. As the county’s population has slightly expanded and shifted, those districts will have to be redrawn.
That discussion will start at the second Executive Committee meeting this Thursday at noon.