By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Otsego County’s plan for a shared transportation garage has been revived.
County officials met with representatives from Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES in the past month to gage interest in another push to build a centralized, shared services facility on county Route 35 in the town of Milford, on land adjacent to the ONC BOCES campus.
“I would not say it is full speed ahead, but maybe it is half speed ahead,” Otsego County Board of Representatives President Dave Bliss said on Tuesday, April 27. “It is still very much needed,” Bliss said. “BOCES is still interest. It is back on now that the funding is coming back up and we’re hopefully going to be on better footing.”
The county’s facilities are near Cooperstown Central School on Linden Avenue in an area where no expansion or renovation is possible.
“It’s old. It’s not big enough. It is functionally obsolete. It is structurally unsound. It is a terrible location. It is right in the middle of the school and the village traffic on Linden Avenue.” Bliss said. “We might be able to leave some things there, such as the salt facility and the gas facility. The village of Cooperstown uses those, so it would be more expensive if they had to have their own facilities.
Bliss said there have been ongoing discussions with county schools and other municipalities about joining BOCES and the county. He said he thinks more groups will be interested once the plans are concrete, a cost is known and the shared services begin to lead toward budget savings.
“I would think any school would be interested,” Bliss said. “They are in and out of BOCES all the time. This way they could drop off the kids at BOCES and if their bus needed servicing, they could just drop it off at the garage at the same time. It is getting harder to find mechanics, too, so it might be better for the schools if they did not have to hire their own mechanics, but could use one of the mechanics at the garage.”
Although the Cooperstown location is only about 10 miles north of the BOCES location, Bliss said the Milford spot is “ideal.”
“I identified that spot three or four years ago when I started (on the board),” he said. “It is not exactly, but pretty much the center of the county. There is not much around it. You can expand as needed.”
Bliss said the partners are waiting for an architectural estimate from C&S of Syracuse and then they will begin to assess how to pay for the project. A mix of grants, municipal budgets and education money will likely be part of the financial package.
“It is really back on schedule,” Bliss said.