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County move to Wal Mart site stalled

Feb 23, 2011 6:40 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Former Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Art Baer, R-Hillsdale, was one of the committee members who voted to squash plans to study the fe2sibility of moving county offices to the former Wal Mart facility in Greenport. Image from ccscoop."][/caption]In a surprise move at the Columbia County Planning/Economic Development/Tourism/Agriculture committee meeting on Tuesday evening, February 22, town supervisors voted to table a motion that would fund the county Capital Resource Corporation’s space efficiency study, tied to a possible move of county offices to the old Wal Mart building in Greenport. The Register-Star's Francesca Olsen reports that County Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development Ken Flood asked for $78,600 to fund a third-party study that would identify county office space needs and present several options for county department consolidation, with cost estimates for each. "The request opened the floodgates of BOS self-introspection, with supervisors wondering why such a study was necessary since similar ones had already been completed in-house, why they still hadn’t made a decision on where to put the Department of Social Services when its lease runs out in June, and why they should even embark on an all-encompassing consolidation project when a long list of other capital projects aren’t done and with impending budget cuts from the state coming their way," Olsen writes. "The CRC has put down a $50,000 refundable deposit on the former Walmart property on Fairview Avenue in Greenport; this will keep the property off the market for 120 days (the clock started Feb. 8) while the board decides if they’d like to close on the parcel." The stalled sudy was originally commissioned by the year-old CRC because of the time limit on Walmart — the reasoning being that if Walmart’s 125,000 square foot building was the best option for consolidating, it would be best to make the decision before the clock ran out. The CRC’s plan was to lease the building to the county. Last week, the CRC chose New York City-based Urbahn Associates to complete the assessment, but until it’s approved by the BOS, no study will take place. The firm would have been given a May 1 deadline to complete it. “It’s almost like hiring an interior decorator to lay out this house you’re not quite sure you can afford to buy,” said former BOS Chairman Art Baer, R-Hillsdale, of his reasons for voting against the funding. “I think it’s a great idea but given where we are today we need to do some estimating as to what the tax levy impact is going to be on some of these scenarios.”

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