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December 07, 2016
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Jail discussions resume; location is once again debated

The Sullivan County Legislature discusses the proposed new county jail.

Further, the jail administrator, Hal Smith, said he had taken the prisoner transportation figures from 2009 for medical and court transports, and compared the man hours and miles from the Mapes property to the annex property. The result was the transports would have required 668 man hours from the Mapes property versus 1,648 hours from annex; the transports wou1d have totaled 4,125 miles from Mapes property and 28,945 from the annex. He said, “And this is something that would never go away.”
Benson said, “I don’t understand how a seven- or eight-mile difference between two pieces of property can cause that much difference in hours and mileage.”
Later in the discussion Smith explained that the largest number of trips transporting prisoners from the jail go to Monticello or Liberty.
In relation to rejection of the annex, legislator Jonathan Ruis said the state Commission of Correction (COC), which has final approval over the jail, had told the county “you’re barking up the wrong tree” with that choice of a possible location, and it was not one of the six locations the COC had approved for the jail.
Benson responded that this was four years ago, and suggested the COC might be willing to consider the annex site this time around. He noted there is already water and sewer available at the property, and there is not water and sewer at the Mapes site.
The cost of bringing water and sewer to the Mapes site is included in the estimated $80 million cost of the project.
Chaboty and Smith said they would try to arrange a meeting with a representative of COC to get a response to the question about whether COC might be open to the annex as a location.
Acting county manager Josh Potosek said the county has spent about $1.9 million for the Mapes property and about $2 million has been paid to the design firm LaBella Associates for construction documents, which are 85 to 90% complete.
Legislator Alan Sorenson said he thought the best way forward would be to pay for the completion of the construction documents, which would give them a definitive cost estimate for that project.
Legislator Kathy LaBuda at one point said there is some urgency to moving forward because if the COC decided to shut down the current jail, which is more than 100 years old, the county would have to foot the bill for housing 180 prisoners at another facility, which would be prohibitive. She asked Potosek to find out the cost of having the construction documents completed.