By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Even with $230,000 in emergency funding allocated by the Otsego County Board of Representatives to fix the leaking roof of the county’s Public Safety Building, it could still be six to eight weeks before inmates are returned to the jail.
“We have one estimate done and we’re waiting for another,” said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. “We’ve also asked the architect that’s working on some other projects at the jail to give us a price for expanding services.”
A unanimous vote approved up to $230,000 to repair or replace the roof following the announcement that the jail had to be closed on Nov. 1, following heavy rains on Oct. 31.
“On October 25, we had leaks, and we decided to shut down three housing units,” Devlin said. “We had to board out 11 people.”
But the problems only worsened with weather. “There was water running into cells and down the hallways, and we had concerns about electrical boxes,” he said. “We notified the Commission, they sent an inspector and we made the decision to board out the remaining 21 inmates.”
It costs the county $85 a day to board inmates at outside facilities. Staff, meanwhile, has remained. Bookings and arraignments can still be held at the jail, but, if held, an inmate will then be transferred elsewhere.
Devlin met with the board during executive session this afternoon, and left with the resolution authorizing the funding and repairs.
“The delay caused by soliciting quotes would endanger the health, welfare and property of the municipality or taxpayers,” the resolution declared.
“This isn’t a $5 million dollar upgrade,” he said. “This is just enough to get us through the next few years while we decide what to do next.”
But Devlin said that inmates will likely not be able to return before the end of the year. “It could be January or February,” he said. “And that’s a hardship for the inmates and their families.”