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Bleau Motions to Rescind Seebold Contract - Supers Vote No

Written By Michael on 7/29/15 | 7/29/15

By Timothy Knight

SCHOHARIE - It was deja vu all over again at the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors on Friday morning, where the location of the Public Safety Facility was discussed for the fifth time in three months.

The debate was assumed over after a packed public hearing was held on the issue on Monday, July 6th, where residents for and against the facility's location voiced their opinions, but it came back in full force despite not being on the agenda and led to an unsuccessful attempt to rescind the county's contract with Seebold Farms.

Raising concerns that "apparently there was some agreement before the meeting," resident Jim Nass voiced disappointment with the county board's lack of response following the public hearing, which he said was just silence.

Supported by a handful of residents who continue to object to the jail's location, Nass accused Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry of not answering any of his or the county board's questions related to the Seebold site or how the scoring process was conducted.

Nass would further allege that "the Seebold site did not have a total site evaluation" because three acres of wetlands were added to the proposed site's parameters later, sparking the resident to declare, "we lied to FEMA."

After more than three and a half years of battling with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to relocate the facility out of its existing position in the floodplain, Schoharie County received the go ahead in late April, but ever since has been embroiled in a battle against its own residents.

One of the leaders of the residential opposition, Lynn Basselan, followed Mr. Nass by suggesting a proposal that the county reach out to the emergency management agency and request an extension to the project's timeline, which Basselan said has been used as a reason not to reopen the site selection process.

Beginning once the county signed the contract to purchase the disputed site in May, the county is on a forty-two month timeline to design and complete the $37 million facility, which will house the Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office, and the county jail.

The early morning display didn't end there, however.

Speaking on behalf of his town board, Jefferson Town Supervisor Sean Jordan addressed several of their concerns about the proposed facility's current site, including the cost and how the deal was structured.

"The Jefferson Town Board requests that the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors should reconsider placing it there," read the supervisor, before further adding that the county board "consider county owned sites, especially on the Fire Training Center."

Wright Town Supervisor Amber Bleau quickly concurred, arguing that the county will "save money by putting the Public Safety Facility at the Fire Training Center," which Bleau said could allow firefighters and first responders to have classrooms for training.

Ms. Bleau would then make a motion to rescind the county's contract with Seebold's, which was seconded by Middleburgh Town Supervisor Jim Buzon.

Questioning Ms. Bleau's point that she did not have the opportunity to read the site evaluation report before voting on naming Seebold as the primary site last June, Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone remarked, "I guess there are some of us who have not done their jobs."

Recognized by a supervisor to speak again, Mr. Nass pointed to the report and said that it was incomplete because it listed only one parcel of land and "not the additional three acres."

Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry responded by stating all of the land has always been included in the process.

Speaking for himself, Blenheim Supervisor Shawn Smith added that he had several lengthy discussions with Cherry concerning the jail site, and that, "no one has withheld the information from me."

With three supervisors absent, the motion to rescind the contract failed by a fairly wide margin.

Voting yes on the motion were: Amber Bleau of Wright, James Buzon of Middleburgh, Sean Jordan of Jefferson, and Harold Vroman of Summit.

Voting no on the motion were: Carl Barbic of Seward, Larry Bradt of Carlisle, Bill Federice of Conesville, Mr. Lape of Richmondville, Mrs. Manko of Sharon, Mr. Milone of Schoharie, Mr. Skowfoe of Fulton, Mr. Smith of Blenheim, and Mr. VanGlad of of Gilboa.

Supervisors McAllister of Cobleskill, Smith of Broome, and VanWormer of Esperance were absent.

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors later voted to award both Labella Associates a contract for achitectural and engineering services and BBL Construction Services a contract for construction management on the new Public Safety Facility.

Supervisors Bleau and Jordan opposed both contracts, while Barbic and Vroman only opposed the contract to Labella.

The award proposals were submitted by members of the recovery team, while includes Bill Cherry, Doug Vandeusen, Ron Simmons, Dan Crandall and Steve Dyer.
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