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Committee squares off over jail proposal, alleged secret meeting

Feb 04, 2017 12:06 am

Daniel Zuckerman is reporting in The Daily Mail tempers flared during a meeting Wed., Feb. 1, of the Greene County Legislature's Public Safety Committee. The subject: The size and cost of the proposed new county jail. The proposal under consideration calls for the construction of a 130-bed facility in Coxsackie at the cost of $52 million. Legislators Harry Lennon, Democrat of Cairo, and Michael Bulich, Republican of Catskill, argued about the overall cost and the proposed number of beds, both critical questions for lawmakers, Zuckerman writes. Much of the cost could be reduced by shrinking parts of the jail including the lobby, utilities and the cells, Bulich said. "You’re worried about the bed space and that you’re not going to save any money, a significant amount of money, by going down to 100 beds," Bulich said. "We have a responsibility to the taxpayers in this county to build this facility," Harry Lennon said. "I certainly don’t want to go out there and build a facility that’s going to be in the first five years too small." Catskill representative Kevin Lennon, a Democrat, questioned why legislators were not invited to attend an eight-hour meeting last week with representatives from the architectural firm RicciGreene Associates to discuss the project. "I’m wondering why we have to make a decision to spend this kind of money and we weren’t invited," Kevin Lennon said. Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden denied that anyone was excluded from the meeting. Republican Bill Lawrence, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, agreed with Groden. He said the idea that secret meetings are being held is ridiculous. Lawrence was also surprised to hear Kevin Lennon say there was discussion about restoration of the existing jail in Catskill. "There’s been no discussion of renovating the current jail," Lawrence told the paper. The discussion Wednesday was held in advance of a meeting next week with representatives of the state Commission on Corrections. Read the full story in The Daily Mail.