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Schoharie County to get new public safety building

May 01, 2015 12:03 am
Rick Karlin, in Capitol Confidential reports that Schoharie County will get a new public safety building -- and it won't be in a flood plain. On April 29, local representative Chirs Gibson and Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would allow federal funding to put the structure in a new location. Ever since the public safety building -- which includes the emergency dispatch center and a jail -- was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, FEMA and Schoharie County officials have been debating whether to rebuild at the same site in the Schoharie Creek flood plain for $40 million, or put a new center a mile away on higher ground for $37 million. FEMA will pay for 75 percent of the cost, with $1.5 million coming from insurance proceeds. Read the full story in Capitol Confidential.

The press release from Chuck Schumer.

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Chris Gibson today announced that, following personal appeals, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has approved of the framework that will finally allow Schoharie County to relocate its Public Safety Building away from the Schoharie Creek and out of the flood plain. Schumer, Gillibrand and Gibson explained that this important project has been delayed for years after the building was severely damaged during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Schumer, Gillibrand and Gibson said that Schoharie County and FEMA Regional staff recently came to an agreement over a framework for the total project cost of $37 million, which includes $1.5 million in insurance proceeds. The project will have a 75% federal cost share. On Tuesday, Schumer made a personal call to Administrator Fugate, where he urged Fugate to provide this final seal of approval of this framework, which will now finally allow this project to become a reality. Gillibrand also wrote Fugate in February urging him to expedite FEMA’s review of the County’s multiple requests.

“After four years of bureaucratic hurdles that were put up by FEMA, we were finally able to break through the red-tape. Now, Schoharie County will finally be able to receive the federal funding it needs to relocate its vital Public Safety Facility and get this long-overdue project underway. I was proud to go to bat for Schoharie, and that is why I personally called Administrator Fugate to urge him to swiftly approve this framework and funding,” said Schumer. “Schoharie County has already waited too long, but now, we can finally say this project is headed toward the finish line. Thanks to the perseverance of Bill Cherry, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, and their consultant, Ron Simmons – who have all worked on this tirelessly since the day the building flooded four years ago – we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I am pleased to announce that FEMA has finally heard our calls to move Schoharie County’s public safety facility out of the flood plain and has approved the framework that will fully fund the relocation plan,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I toured the area after the storm and saw firsthand how important it is that this critical facility gets moved out of the flood plain. I wrote Administrator Fugate on multiple occasions urging him to expedite FEMA’s review and respond to the county’s requests. I fought for years to help get Schoharie county through this red tape so they can relocate this critical facility and now this long overdue project can finally move forward.”

“This is wonderful news for the taxpayers of Schoharie County and the hard-working men and women of the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department,” said Congressman Gibson. “They have persevered with abundant strength, dedication, and community spirit in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and the loss of the public safety building. For over three years now, my staff and I have been honored to work with representatives at every level of government to see that federal authorities provide Schoharie County with the support and assistance it deserves. Those efforts have paid off here, and I want to express my gratitude to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, Senator Seward, Assemblyman Lopez, Andrew Feeney and his team at the State Emergency Management Office, and a host of local officials, especially Sheriff Tony Desmond and County Treasurer William Cherry. We will continue to work together to see that our first responders have the resources they need to keep our communities safe, and that the ongoing flood recovery mission continues with the federal support that is required.”

“The people of Schoharie County deeply appreciate the strong and rock-solid support shown by Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Gibson for the relocation of our flood-damaged Public Safety Facility. This important project will guarantee that such a vital facility and emergency response center will never again be left vacant and inoperable at the critical moment when it will be most needed should we face another disaster. Thanks to their combined leadership and consistent support, FEMA will now allow us to accomplish that goal, and the fact that each of these officials have personally intervened on our behalf with FEMA Director Fugate to bring this process to a successful conclusion, certainly means a great deal to all of us involved in this very important project,” said Bill Cherry, County Treasurer and Flood Recovery Coordinator.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Gibson explained that before the storm the Schoharie County Public Safety Facility performed critical public safety functions for the surrounding community. Specifically, the Public Safety Facility housed county inmates, the Sheriff’s Department and road patrol operations, the county emergency operations center, and the 911 emergency communications coordination center. During Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the facility suffered massive damages, with floodwaters reaching the ceiling. Most operations have been temporarily relocated as the majority of the building remains uninhabitable.
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