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Bids Awarded For Homeless Shelter Construction in Delhi

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/29/24 | 2/29/24

The empty lot at 161 Main Street in Delhi where supervisors plan to resurrect the homeless shelter that burned down in 2021. 

Rural Schools Will Suffer With Proposed Budget Cuts, Supervisors Say

By Mary A. Crisafulli

DELHI - Delaware County Board of Supervisors awarded bids totaling $919,920 for construction of a homeless shelter at 161 Main Street in Delhi. 

Supervisors have been working to reconstruct the building at 161 Main Street since the structure was lost to a fire in December 2021. The county received roughly $460,000 from the insurance claim. 

According to Hamden Supervisor Wayne Marshfield, roughly $954,000 was put in a reserve account following the fire to finance a reconstruction project. Funds were collected from insurance and surplus funding from other projects. 

Last year, the county attempted to bid out the project but was unhappy with the bids received, which, according to Marshfield, totaled half a million more than the bids awarded this year.

Bids awarded include general construction of $550,000 to JP Dugan Construction, mechanical construction of $76,400 to B&I Home Comforts, and electrical construction of $135,700, plumbing of $115,900, and fire suppression of $41,920 all awarded to Treffeisen & Sons.

Marshfield said fire suppression and other preventative measures are a requirement of the project. Four individuals were utilizing the shelter at the time of the fire. "We were lucky everyone made it out alright," said Marshfield. 

The new structure will have eight bedrooms, two of which will be double rooms, to serve 10 individuals at once. The home will also have two bathrooms, two kitchens, two living rooms, and two laundry rooms.

The county currently has approximately 14 individuals in need of housing security, said Marshfield. Those individuals have been placed in vacant foster homes and motels since the Delhi shelter is unavailable, he explained. Marshfield stressed the need of the new facility while also commending Delaware County Department of Social Services (DSS). The department purchased three lots at 161, 163, and 165 Main Street roughly 20 years ago. "DSS has greatly improved those lots," said Marshfield. 

DSS Deputy Commissioner Keith Weaver said there has been an upward trend in homelessness over the past few years. To provide an example, Weaver said he recently was able to call Kortright Supervisor Gorge Haynes and inform him the individuals housed at the vacant Bloomville foster home can be relocated to Delhi as slots in the other shelter opened up. Unfortunately, due to an increase in need, Weaver said he called Haynes only one week later to inform him they would be using the Bloomville home again. "The shelter is greatly needed," he said.

Delhi Supervisor Maya Boukai, who came to office this January, was sole in her opposition to the project. While she commended DSS officials and supervisors who worked to put the plan together and recognized the need for serving the unhoused, Boukai ultimately voted against awarding the bids. "I believe we can do that (serve the unhoused) without spending one million dollars to build a 1500 square foot duplex," she said. Adding that, "fundamentally, I'm against the location of the project in Delhi's limited commercial district." Boukai continued to say that other options were presented to the county which were "dismissed as inconvenient to the county without sufficient regard to the strong requests and struggles of the host community."

One idea presented to county officials was to find another location in Delhi off of the main street and sell the vacant lot to put it back on the tax rolls and make it available for a new business. This idea, said Boukai, might have cost the same amount of money but could have significantly supported the Delhi community.

"In the end, spending one million on a duplex  may actually make the most sense," said Boukai, "The problem is that I can't say that with confidence because no other options were presented in a meaningful way, with data and numbers."

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, said Marshfield.

In another discussion, supervisors were unified in their opposition to Governor Kathy Hochul's proposed budget cuts to Foundation Aid for school districts. The Foundation Aid is a formula that determines how much each public school district will receive from state aid based on need. 

Supervisors passed a resolution officially opposing the Governor's proposed cuts to Foundation Aid stating it disproportionately affects Catskill and Adirondack mountain regions. This is due to the community culture which has a large percentage of wealthy second-home and retirement community members that raises the income wealth index unjustifiably from those who are served by the school districts. The county has a reported median household income of roughly $58,000 which is 27% less than the state median of $79,000. In addition, 36% of housing in the county is seasonal housing compared to 9.5% statewide.

Hancock Supervisor Jerry Vernold said, while these decisions are in negotiation, "That tells me some will be cut and in my opinion, none of it should." Proposed cuts would account for 24% of the Hancock School District budget, he reported. Downsville, Franklin, and Roxbury could all lose over 30%, said Vernold. "This doesn't make any sense," he concluded.

Andes Supervisor Wayland Gladstone said Andes School District could lose roughly 50% of its budget. 

The resolution will be sent to Governor Hochul,  Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, and all other state representatives for the area.

In other business, supervisors accepted several grant awards for the social services department, emergency services department, probation department, and sheriff's office. 

The Village of Delhi Police Department was awarded ARPA funding of $10,921 to bring its bathroom facilities at the firing range up to state compliance. 

The Economic Development Train-to-Work initiative was awarded $50,000 in ARPA funding. The initiative assists businesses in finding and training a workforce through grant opportunities. 

Supervisors accepted excess ARPA funds of $501 previously allocated to the Village of Franklin septic system engineering study. They also accepted excess funding of $10,000 previously awarded to Fiscal Affairs for EFPR Group to consult on ARPA funding allocations. 

Marshfield said there is $67,480 left of ARPA funding that is required to be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by 2026. 

Following an executive session, supervisors appointed Don Smith, Middletown Supervisor James Ellis, Andes Supervisor Wayland Gladstone, and Hamden Supervisor Wayne Marshfield to the Deferred Compensation Committee for a two-year term.

The next board of supervisors meeting is scheduled Wednesday, Mar. 13 at 1 p.m.

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