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Media mostly mum on new jail, largest expenditure in Greene County history

Sep 20, 2018 2:33 pm
While the Greene County Legislature voted 10-4 Sept. 19 to proceed with the most expensive construction project in the county's history, a new jail building, there has been little media coverage of the vote. Both The Daily Freeman and HudsonValley360.com have short reports, with few details or reaction quotes. The Catskill-based news website reports few details, such as a standing room-only crowd there for the vote. "In a quiet gesture of protest, a woman placed folded orange jumpsuits on the desks of the 10 lawmakers who voted yes. A bouquet of flowers was placed on [Lori] Torgersen’s desk for voting no," Sarah Trafton wrote on the HudsonValley360.com website. But she does not quote any legislators on either side to explain their votes. The Daily Freeman only quotes one legislator in favor of the new facility in Coxsackie. Cairo's William Lawrence explains that an amendment added Sept. 17 in the Finance Committee suggests a limit to the facility of 80 beds. "It won’t save millions of dollars, but will save hundreds of thousands,” Lawrence said. “"I think it is a matter to rightsize the jail.” The vote was for a $39 million bond, or loan. There will be interest to pay on that for 30 years, and other costs. Opponents say the project to replace the now-closed Catskill jail will cost more than $70 million if all costs are included. They preferred sharing a facility with Columbia County, which Greene County has been doing since April, when the Catskill building was deemed to unsafe to use. Since then, Greene County is spending about $100,000 per month to transport and house about 50 inmates a day in the Columbia and Ulster County jails. There has been no talk among legislators about how much taxes will be raised, or what services will be cut, to pay for the new facility. But that will most likely fall to other legislators in the future, when the current representatives are out of office. Legislator Charles Martinez of Coxsackie said the state's Commission of Corrections must approve the project, probably in the next 60 days, and then it will take two years to build the jail. Catskill's legislative team split on the bond vote, with Linda Overbaugh, and Matt Luvera, voting to move the facility out of Catskill, and Michael Bulich and Kevin C. Lennon voting against the measure. Also voting for the measure were Cairo's Lawrence and Harry A. Lennon; Hunter's Larry Gardner; Greenville's Kevin Lewis; Athens' Lee Palmateer; New Baltimore's Patrick S. Linger; and Coxsackie's Thomas M. Hobart and Martinez. Windham's Lori Torgersen, and Durham's Aidan O’Connor, Jr. were the other 'no' votes.
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