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Early reaction to Greene County Jail vote

Sep 21, 2018 12:33 pm
Sarah Trafton reports in Columbia-Greene Media the reaction to the Greene County Legislature's vote Sept. 19 to build a new Greene County Jail, the most expensive project in the county's history. The legislature voted 10-4 in favor of a $39 million measure this week, and plans to take $8 million in reserves to partially pay for the construction, interest, and other costs that opponents say will top $70 million. “It’s an outrage,” Climax resident Claudia McNulty said. Mary Finneran, of Cairo, agreed. “It’s a shame, a travesty,” Finneran said. “This will destroy Greene County. We can’t afford the debt.” Obviously, the legislators voting 'yes' disagreed. “It turned out just the way I expected,” Coxsackie's Charles Martinez said. “We need a jail in Greene County.” Cairo's William Lawrence, who led the charge for the new jail, agreed with Martinez. “It’s a logical conclusion to the jail project concerns,” he said. “We’ve tried to hear everyone’s concerns and adopt our thinking to that point of view. I see no better solution, as ugly as it may seem.” Windham's Lori Torgersen voted against the bond. “I’m profoundly disappointed for this county that I love and the people that live here,” she said. “This is the single-biggest mistake I’ve been involved with in my entire career. We had an incredible opportunity as leaders to save taxpayers from this expenditure and do better for criminal justice but we squandered that opportunity. I wish there was something that could stop this project and give us another chance to do better.” 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 William B. 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 Charles A. Martinez. Windham's Lori Torgersen, and Durham's Aidan O’Connor, Jr. were the other 'no' votes. The legislature had been previously considering a much cheaper proposal to share a facility with Columbia County. Torgersen said some local residents are trying to add a referendum to the ballot to overturn the decision. The state Commission of Corrections will approve or deny the project within 60 days, and construction will take at least two years. Read the full story at HudsonValley360.com.