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Genesee County Jail

June 14, 2022 - 8:23pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Genesee County Jail, batavia, notify.

jailconstructionmay112022.jpeg

A bit too much water and dirt made for muddy waters at the construction site of the new county jail.

At least temporarily.

In his report to the Public Service Committee Monday, Project Executive Mark Bollin reviewed how weather and ground materials worked their way into construction plans.

“Temporary lay down area has been established. Site earthwork cuts and fills is about 95 percent complete. We've done about two inches of stone right now, because if we don't put the two inches of stone down there right now (there can be drainage issues) when it rains," Bollin said at the Old Courthouse. "The contractor is going to be shut down for a day until it dries up … but thankfully this site dries up pretty quickly."

The weather — a recent good steady rain — shut down work for about a day and a half, he said. Underground utilities will be installed beginning this week, and contractor construction trailers are on site ready for utility hookups, he said.

Under the category of “change management,” he listed five cost items that were discovered during this initial phase, including an existing septic tank and leach field from when Genesee Community College was located there. Another item was the removal and replacement of “unsuitable soils,” he said.

County legislators wanted more details about those unsuitable soils.

“A layer of topsoil was discovered under a layer of the fill. The geotechnical engineer was brought to the site to review the existing site conditions and directed that the topsoil be removed from the field, or for allowance to remove or replace 500 cubic yards of unsuitable soil. This material was included in work package number one,” Bollin said. “The soil is not suitable to build the building; it doesn't have the bearing capacity to support the building.

"So I believe what happened here, at some point, somebody put fill over the top of topsoil and then another layer of topsoil somehow got on top of that. So when the contractor … cut the site down to grade, they dug down about eight inches or so and they found another layer of topsoil. We're calculating that to be about 100 yards of material.”

That scenario was built into one of the estimated scopes of work, he said, which is “the reason why we had that allowance to cover such things.”

The project cost is still currently $57,272,000, he said, however, three revisions to the project have been issued and are out for pricing with the contractors.

More fencing has been put up to redirect traffic and separate the project from the adjacent county’s Animal Shelter and Building 2. As far as safety goes, there have been no lost time accidents to date, he said, and safety plans have been submitted and approved by The Pike Company, except for one.

Despite the glitches with rain and topsoil, foundation work is scheduled to begin the week of June 27, which is two weeks early according to Pike’s Guideline Construction Schedule, Bollin said.

A bulk of the project is on track for a January 2024 completion, with a final completion of the new Genesee County Jail set for March 2024, he said.

2022 File Photo of construction for the new county jail on Route 5, Batavia, next to County Building 2 and Genesee County Animal Shelter. Photo by Howard Owens.

May 17, 2022 - 5:14pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Genesee County Jail, batavia, notify.

jailconstructionmay112022.jpeg

Aside from the brick-and-mortar details of constructing a new, 184-bed Genesee County jail facility, Senior Project Superintendent Randy Babbitt offered a reminder Monday about what’s most important.

“My top priority is safety. Safety, safety, safety is paramount with me. I want everyone returning home the same way they show up every day. And we all have families, kids, grandkids. So that's one of the biggest things I stress to the guys: safety first,” Babbitt said during the first update given to the Public Services Committee. “And then I go into quality and a lot of other things, but my main concern for my walk is to be safe every day. So please be assured that's gonna be on the top.”

Most of the contractors have provided their own site-specific safety plan, reviewed and approved by Pike company's corporate safety director, Bollin said. It's also been reviewed and approved by Senior Project Manager Carl York.

“They did submit one to us, and we kicked it back because they didn't address a few things that we want to address,” Bollin said. “They are complying with their safety plan that they have submitted, and everything is off to a good start.”

York outlined work that has been completed and future ongoing collaboration.

“We're collecting everybody's detailed schedules that will go in … we’re gonna start having our project manager meetings every week, starting next week, and our coordination meetings with the contractors coordinating all of the MEPs for all the buildings are also starting next week. And both of those will go on every week until their coordination tasks are completed,” York said. "Randy's on-site superintendent meetings will probably start in about another two, three weeks or so when there's a few more subs working on site. Everybody's very eager to get as much done before the snow flies. We're all very excited to be here. And I'm very eager. You're going to see it's smooth (moving) forward.”

Work has begun at the site of the new larger jail on West Main Street Road next to County Building 2. Equipment at the site will be a mainstay for several months, with a final completion date to be in March 2024, Bollin said. 

He reviewed what’s already been approved — six prior packages with contractors Bayside Paving for site work, LeChase Construction Services as general contractor, Joseph Flihan Company for food services equipment work, Thurston Dudek for plumbing and fire protection, Bell Mechanical Contractor for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Kaplan-Schmidt for electrical and security electronics work and a seventh contract with CME Associates, which is to provide special inspections and testing.

Bayside paving began “mobilization” earlier this month, with temporary fencing, soil erosion control, clearing and grubbing construction entrances that were completed on May 13. Stripping topsoil began that same day, Bollin said.

The notice to proceed was issued to all contractors on Monday, he said.

“It was dated today. Based on the timeframe that we gave the contractors to complete the project, a substantive date for substantial completion will be Jan. 14, 2024. The date for final completion is March 15, 2024,” he said.

Given this has been a project in the making for at least five years, it was a drum-roll moment as he announced an official groundbreaking ceremony date has been set. Genesee County officials will celebrate the jail’s formal inception at 10 a.m. on May 26.

All private contracts have been fully executed and both Genesee County and the contractors have signed them, he said. The latest agreement with CME Associates is being drafted, he said. All forms, payment bonds and insurance have been provided by all of the contractors and have been “carefully reviewed by Genesee County’s insurance agent and Pike's risk management department,” he said.

He said the contracts are signed for a total project cost of $57,272,800. 

Top photo: 2022 File photo by Howard Owens

May 11, 2022 - 2:27pm
posted by Joanne Beck in Genesee County Jail, news.

jailconstructionmay112022.jpg

Several years after initial planning, saving and getting documentation in place for a new Genesee County Jail, the first shovels are in the ground for the $70 million, 184-bed facility on West Main Street Road, adjacent to County Building #2.

Officials have said the project has been said it won't be a financial burden to property owners. The county has been saving money in reserves and holding a greater portion of local sales tax to help cover debt service payments. A four-member corrections officer transition team was put in place to write policies and procedures to cover operations of the new jail that will accommodate expansion needs.

Photo by Howard Owens.

March 30, 2022 - 7:54pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county, Genesee County Jail.

Genesee County leaders, knowing that they wouldn't be able to avoid building a state-mandated new county jail forever, say the financial plan they have put in place will shield taxpayers form having to bear any of the $70 million cost.

“We’ve been planning for this through our sales tax negotiations that have been going on previously, four or five years ago, with the idea that the growth in sales tax and then sales tax proceeds in general will help fund this operation,” County Manager Matt Landers said following today’s special Committee of the Whole meeting.

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County jail project bids come in under budget; legislators approve all six contractors

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“For us at the county, we're glad to say that we have the resources to not have to have a property tax increase to pay for this jail, because we'll be able to use a good chunk of our reserves that we've set aside along with sales tax proceeds that have come to us. So, we feel confident that no county property tax increase will be needed for this jail.”

The county has set the wheels in motion to bond the expense over 30 years. When asked about the yearly payment, Landers acknowledged that it’s “pretty daunting.”

“Yeah, it's considerable but, again, we've been planning for this for years and making sure that the growth in sales tax -- and we're being smart with how we spend our money -- and basically set aside and earmark in our mind how much we need to grow in sales tax,” he replied. “We feel confident at this point that sales tax proceeds in the near future are going to be enough to cover debt service payments, along with some potential reserves that we set aside in prior years as well.”

County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, who called the approval of the bidding and funding resolutions as “a hallmark day for the county,” pointed out that the county’s recent 40-year sales tax agreement with its municipalities set the stage for the jail funding.

“I want to mention the very sometimes unpopular 40-year sales tax agreement and the cap of the $10 million for the villages and towns outside the city. That's what affords this debt service payment on that 30 years schedule,” she said. “And the jail is a county responsibility. It’s one that we can't push off to a different level of government.

“So, taking the steps to assure that this responsibility is well funded and it is carefully planned is part of a lot of the work that Matt's office has done. And the legislators have been very involved in asking the good questions like what was asked here today.”

Stein addressed comments from residents that the county should have built a shared jail with Orleans County to save money.

“We did try to go down that path with our neighboring county. The will was there from the legislators but it wasn’t so much supported through the rest of the rank and file,” she said. “We also would have need 47 different bills (pieces of legislation) at the state level in order to enable it to be a shared facility.”

Landers said there was the issue of the state legislation to allow the county to do a shared jail plus timing entered the equation.

“But the nice that about the jail being built is that it allows for expansion,” he added. “It has been built (designed) with all the right size mechanicals and everything is built so that if Orleans wants to in the future, and the state allows for it, we certainly would be receptive to adding a pod or two and to allow for Orleans County to share this Genesee County Jail.”

Sheriff William Sheron said a facility to replace the county’s original jail, built in 1902, has been a long time coming.

“When I started in 1977, there were plans on the table to build a new jail on land that was purchased (on the site of the former State Police barracks on East Main Street) in recognition that the jail was obsolete,” he said. “For whatever reason, that didn’t come to fruition and in the mid-1980s, we put the addition onto this jail (in the city).”

Sheron said the county has put together “a great team” dedicated to fiscal responsibility.

“We’re not going to build a Taj Mahal; we're going build a facility that's up to standards and … be able to offer more programs for those that are involved, those that are incarcerated, and hopefully make some improvements in their lives and better working conditions for officers.”

Stein thanked key players on the team, specifically Assistant Engineer Laura Wadams, Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn and Purchasing Director Chet Kaleta, and her colleagues on the legislature.

“Genesee County is not waiting for things to happen. The legislature that is serving this county is getting the job done,” she said. “Thank each and every one of you for your hard work that brought us to this day -- your commitment, your creativity, your patience, and most of all your courage during this time in our society where everything is in flux and changing. All stood fast, tall and committed to this project for this county.”

March 30, 2022 - 6:21pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in Genesee County Jail, genesee county, The Pike Company, SMRT.

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The project executive for the construction management firm working with Genesee County on its new county jail project this afternoon said everyone should be “very happy” with the bids that were submitted for the six work areas that have been identified.

“Considering the economy and what's happening around the world -- the amount of work that's out there right now -- I think we should all be very happy that we have these results. They are very, very good results to be honest with you,” said Mark Bollin of The Pike Company of Rochester during a Genesee County Legislature Committee of the Whole meeting.

The special session was scheduled specifically for the awarding of construction bids for the $70 million, 184-bed jail initiative.

Bollin (photo above) went into detail about the companies that submitted low bids and answered questions from legislators about the project, that is scheduled to break ground on May 9 on land next to County Building 2 on West Main Street Road. He said work will take place over 20 months, with a projected completion date of January 2024 (plus another two months for close-out and punch list items).

As reported earlier today on The Batavian, the six low bidders are as follows:

General Contractor - LeChase Construction Services, LLC, of Rochester, $34,980,000;

Site Work - Bayside Paving Contractors Inc., Shortsville, at a stipulated sum of $3,792,000;

Food Services Equipment Work - Joseph Flihan Company, Utica, at a stipulated sum of $826,800;

Plumbing and Fire Protection Work - Thurston Dudeck LLC, Ontario, at a stipulated sum of $4,362,000;

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Work - Bell Mechanical Contractor, Inc., East Rochester, at a stipulated sum of $5,112,000;

Electrical and Security Electronics Work - Kaplan-Schmidt, Inc., Rochester, at a stipulated sum of $8,200,000.

The total of the six bids -- $57,272,800 -- is $2.7 million less than what The Pike Company budgeted for the work listed above, Bollin said.

Legislators unanimously voted in favor of accepting the bids, and also voted on amending the project reserve fund to increase the amount to be bonded over a 40-year period to the $70 million figure.

Bollin said his company solicited for bids throughout New York, advertising in different places, including the Builders Exchange to Rochester and Buffalo.

“The Pike Company also has a system where we sent out the advertisement to bid to upwards of 5,000 individuals throughout the state,” he said. “So, we actually had very good participation. There was a number of projects that were out to bid at the time. Contractors are busy right now. But we actually did have very good versus participation.”

He advised that each of the six contractors have a “definitive scope of work” and each are aware of their exact responsibilities.

“There was a schedule included in the bidding documents, along with intermediate milestone dates that each contractor was responsible to meet -- both material deliveries, labor, etc. So, every contractor knew exactly what they were supposed to do,” he added.

Response to the bidding documents sent to prospective companies indicated that “they were probably some of the best construction documents … that they’ve ever seen,” Bollin said. “And that was reinforced by our estimating people who also said that those were a very good set of documents.”

A breakdown of the bids showed that three came in on the site work package, five for the general contractor, one for the food service (which came in higher than anticipated due to the cost of stainless steel and kitchen equipment, Bollin said), five for the plumbing work, six for heating and ventilation and five for electrical.

Bollin said all the contracts are ready to go out, along with notice of award letters that he will hand deliver tomorrow. The selected contractors are required to return the signed contracts along with insurance documents within seven calendar days, “at which time, the county can then sign the documents.”

Bollin said he is confident in the stability and expertise of the companies, noting that he has done work with all of them.

When asked about cost overruns, he said a “field order allowance” of $90,000 is built into each contract, but any charges over the bid amount must be approved by the legislature. He also said that The Pike Company will have personnel on site during construction as a quality control measure.

He said he has received assurances from the low bidders that long-lead materials, such as PVC conduit, electrical gear and air handling units, are being ordered now in an attempt to avoid delays.

“One of the reasons why we don't want to issue the notice proceed until May 9 is to give all the contractors a five week period of time …until we actually start construction to start securing steel and precast concrete,” he said. “I know for a fact that the general contractor is already committed to a steel contractor and he's already starting getting things ready. The precast contractor, I personally talked to him after the bid and he said he's already getting things ready to go.”

March 24, 2022 - 12:33pm

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Calling the move from the current Genesee County Jail to the one that will be built on West Main Street Road over the next couple years “an enormous task,” Sheriff William Sheron today said he has complete confidence in the “transition team” he has assembled to lead the way.

Sheron emerged from a three-day training of the five correction officers at the Sheriff’s Office on Park Road by stating that it no longer will be business as usual when the new 184-bed, $70 million jail opens about 22 months after groundbreaking this spring.

“The team has an enormous task of transitioning, obviously, from the old jail to the new jail, which will be a revision of all our general orders, a revision of all of our policies and procedures and how everything is done,” Sheron told The Batavian.

“It's not as simple as just going from the old facility and taking the inmates and putting them into the new jail and operating like we used to at the old jail. There will be more programs and many different things to consider, such as meal distribution, inmate movement, medical, inmate and outside visitation, disciplinary, parking and special housing.”

The sheriff has appointed Corey Cieszki, Danni Stone, Austin Davis, Jenna Barber and Dennis Bartholomew (in photo at top from left to right with Sheriff Sheron) as members of the team.

“There was a solicitation to our staff because we wanted people that were interested in doing it – people that have the dedication and desire, I guess, to take on this responsibility,” Sheron said. “And we wanted people that have longevity left with them because when the facility opens up, these are going to be the go-to people for a while. They will know the mechanics of that building inside and out.”

Since Tuesday, the team has been studying under the guidance of Terry Moran, director of operations for the New York State Commission on Correction. Sheron said the training was an eye-opener for him.

“My eyes were completely opened here,” he said. “I had questions before from people saying, ‘Well, what’s this this transition team going to do?’ And I just had a brief overview from the Commission. They said they would come down and explain everything. Now that they’ve explained it, I see that these people (the team) are going to be busy.”

Sheron said he “can’t stress the importance of this team enough to make sure that this project is completed in a timely manner and in an operational manner so that when we open, everybody is fully trained and all procedures are set in place.”

County Manager Matt Landers echoed Sheron’s feelings, also stating that the first day of the training – which included county employees from various departments – brought numerous details to light.

“I think the average lay person would ask how could we have four individuals (the fifth will be an alternate) for the next two years, and they're in a room and all they're doing is policies and procedures,” he said. “If you went through the four-hour training we went through (on Tuesday) you can see the task ahead of them.”

Landers said the knowledge gained by the team members will make them “experts on this jail” and could result in career advancement to administration for one or more of these individuals.

“So, we're making investment in these individuals. And I think it'll pay off and they will be our future leaders in our correction side for years to come,” he said.

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Top photo: The transition team goes over design drawings with Terry Moran, director of operations for the NYS Commission on Correction. Bottom photo: Moran addresses selected Genesee County employees during first day of a three-day training this week. Photos by Mike Pettinella. Bottom photo submitted.

March 9, 2022 - 7:07pm

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When you’re mandated by New York State to build a new county jail – one with a projected price tag of $70 million, any cost-saving measures are deeply valued.

That has been Genesee County Manager Matt Landers’ message all along, and he emphasized that point again this afternoon at a meeting of the legislature at the Old County Courthouse.

Landers reported that the state Commission of Correction will permit the county’s jail transition team to be housed in County Building 2 on West Main Street Road while construction of the jail, which will be located just east of that building, is going on.

“We found out (that) to save a little bit of money our transition team for the jail will be allowed to be housed in County Building 2 instead of the county having to secure a construction trailer,” Landers said. “We’re glad that the CDC is fine with that, and the sheriff is supportive of that move. Every buck we can save is good – and that is an efficient place for them to go.”

According to a story on The Batavian last September, the four-member transition team will be comprised of current county corrections’ officers and will be charged with writing policies and procedures for the 184-bed facility.

The team needs to be in place at the time of groundbreaking, which is expected to happen this May, Landers said.

Sheriff William Sheron said he is close to finalizing the appointments, which then will force his office to hire four more corrections’ officers to backfill those positions.

In other developments, Landers advised:

  • That he is preparing his thoughts on how the state should “roll out and spend the broadband money that’s flowing through their books.”

Landers said he has a plan that he feels will work best for Genesee County.

“We’re working with our partners on getting the wording correctly,” he said. “The emphasis on my commentary is going to be making sure that more of that money goes toward the unserved versus the underserved.

“I think that in Genesee County (that’s) the best bang for the buck in reaching that last mile -- members of the community that don’t have any internet access. So, that was the focus of my comments.”

Landers said he has reached out to Town Supervisor Gregory Post for his opinion, noting that town officials are eager to expand broadband in their municipality.

  • That the east entrance to County Building 1 (that houses the clerk’s office and the Department of Motor Vehicles) is open now “so people don’t have to park over by Save-A-Lot and walk all the way around.”

“The sandwich boards are down and Building 1 is back open for business.”

Architect's rendering of the new Genesee County Jail to be built on West Main Street Road. Provided by Genesee County manager's office.

February 16, 2022 - 5:10pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, County Legislature, Genesee County Jail.

The Genesee County Legislature is expected to vote next week on two resolutions proposed by County Manager Matt Landers that would extend contracts with the architectural and construction management companies involved with the new $70 million county jail project.

The legislature’s Ways & Means Committee (today) and Public Service Committee (on Monday) approved extending the construction timeline with The Pike Company of Rochester from 18 to 20 months, based on the current market and supply chain constraints.

Landers said the specific start date hasn’t been set yet, but when it does it will be for 20 months – fitting into the June 1, 2022 through April 30, 2024 time period.

Since time is money, the extension will result in an increase of $121,298, with almost $96,550 of that for Pike to manage the extra two months of the construction time frame, Landers said.

“The remainder is cost escalation for Pike’s rising costs from delaying this project so long,” he added.

The other resolution is for two one-year renewals of the contract with SMRT Architects and Engineers of Latham, stretching out the agreement through February 2024. In this case, there is no additional cost to extend the pact.

The full legislature will convene at 5:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

Landers said that construction bid packages were released on Feb. 8. Bid awards are expected to go out in March with groundbreaking of the 184-bed jail on West Main Street Road scheduled for April.

November 22, 2021 - 10:53pm
posted by Press Release in Genesee County Jail, news.

Press release:

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr. is reinstating visitation at the Genesee County Jail beginning noon on Tuesday, 11/23/21, for those incarcerated individuals who are NOT in quarantine.

"We appreciate your understanding while this precautionary measure was in place in order to prevent the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to incarcerated individuals' families and employees."

September 20, 2021 - 4:52pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Jail, County Legislature.

Prior to the construction phase, Genesee County will need to have its four-member corrections’ officer transition team in place to write policies and procedures covering the $70 million, 184-bed county jail proposed for West Main Street Road, just east of County Building 2.

County Manager Matt Landers last week updated legislators on the progress of the jail, continuing to express confidence that groundbreaking will take place next spring.

Appointing those to be on the transition team and reviewing and approving engineering specifications are current priorities, he said.

“We’ve always known that there was going to be a jail transition team that would be responsible for writing all of the policies and procedures of the new facility, and the (New York State) COC (Commission of Correction) requires that this team be hired as soon as the first shovel is in the ground,” Landers said.

The plan is to take four current county corrections’ officers and assigning them to the transition team, and then to “backfill” the positions that would be open afterwards.

“And that’s when we would hope to increase our efforts to hire more female COs because we will be housing females in the new facility,” he advised.

Landers said Assistant Engineer Laura Wadham and Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn are poring over the drawings to make sure “everything from a technical engineering perspective is being considered on the site.”

The county is continuing the State Environmental Quality Review process, working with the SMRT architectural firm of Portland, Me.

“Hopefully we can go out to bid near the end of the year and be in position to award contracts in the spring,” Landers said, adding that the new four-pod jail would include a backup E-911 Center. Currently, that service is located in the Genesee Justice building at 14 West Main St.

The county is planning to take out a 30-year bond to pay for the jail, with annual payments estimated at $3 million to $3.5 million, Landers said.

“Interest rates are historically low right now, which is in our favor,” he said. “Plus, this (financing of the jail) is one of the reasons for the restructuring of the sales tax distribution agreement with the towns and villages so we can utilize more of that revenue to pay off the jail.”

Landers said that portions of the sales tax proceeds and reserves would go to the debt service payment.

“Over the next decade or so, we would use less and less reserves on an annual basis, and more of the sales tax as sales tax revenue grows,” he noted.

In another development, Landers today said the Genesee County Legislature will be conducting a Committee of the Whole meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Old County Courthouse.

That meeting has been set up for legislators to go over the results of the 2020 Census as they pertain to population shifts in the county’s nine legislative districts.

"For us, we utilize weighted voting in Genesee County … so we have to go through the process of updating our calculations – updating the weighting of each legislative district," he said.

He said the process includes hiring a consultant to certify the results and then a public referendum on the November 2022 ballot to ratify the changes, which would take effect in January 2023.

The regular County Legislature meeting will follow the COW session.

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File photo of, clockwise from left, lobby, kitchen, dayroom, visitation area of facility similar to proposed new Genesee County Jail.

September 15, 2021 - 1:04pm
posted by Press Release in Genesee County Jail, news, COVID-19.

Press Release:

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr. announces that inmate visitation resumes at the Genesee County Jail effective today. 

August 24, 2021 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Jail, news, COVID-19.

Press release:

Due to Covid cases within the Genesee County Jail, Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr. is suspending all inmate visitations effective immediately until further notice. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to inmates’ families and employees.  

July 19, 2021 - 8:46pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Genesee County Jail, County Legislature, SMRT, Pike Company.

Next Wednesday, July 28th, is shaping up as round three in Genesee County’s attempt to get a grip on the size and cost of the new county jail it has been mandated to build by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At the end of the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting today at the Old County Courthouse conference room, County Manager Matt Landers said he has received an updated 10-page bed study from the SMRT architectural firm of Portland, Me.

Landers said he plans to go over the report at a meeting of the full legislature next week, and expects to have a revised cost estimate from the Pike Company of Rochester at that time as well.

“We’ve done this twice before,” Landers said. “Going back three or four years, the legislature gave me a thumbs-up, and probably two years ago when we were getting a better handle on the costs, I did it again and got the legislature to agree to $60 million. We were all in agreement – thumbs up.”

Calling the coming session a “good gut check,” Landers said it will be the first time that two new legislators – Brooks Hawley and Chad Klotzbach – will get to hear the full scope of the project.

Genesee County has been conducting its due diligence on the construction of a 184-bed jail on land just east of County Building 2 on West Main Street Road.

Landers is hoping that $60 million figure is still in play, but things could change in this post-COVID environment.

“Now, we’re in a different world, COVID, numbers, everything. So, once again we need to make sure everyone is on board for whatever cost estimates are before us,” he said. “The next thumbs up is going to dictate preparing our bid documents and going out to bid sometime in the spring. If cost estimates are two or three times (what we budgeted for), we’d have to stop and wait.”

He noted that SMRT reported that the 184-bed number is still intact, but even that isn’t etched in stone.

“We all know that the state is taking a left turn, to a degree, with social justice reforms,” he said. “Is that the way it’s going to be for awhile or is there going to be a pendulum swing, using the sheriff’s (William Sheron) words. But how much of one?”

Another factor is whether the state will allow those sentenced for one or two years to be kept in county jail.

“Now, if it’s longer than a year, you’re sentenced to state prison,” Landers said. “The state, using the mantra of social justice and to save money, may decide to shift these people and keep them in (county) jails, which meets their argument of keeping them closer to their families.”

WHAT ABOUT THE CURRENT JAIL BUILDING?

When asked if it was possible to sell the current jail in tandem with the sale of the City of Batavia police station building, Landers said it was “an interesting concept but there a lot of pieces that would have to work together.”

“It’s going to take longer to build a jail than it’s going to take to build a police station. We’re not going to be out of the current jail for two or three years and that’s if there are no cost overruns and we are ready to go in the spring,” he said.

Landers also mentioned that Genesee Justice and the backup 9-1-1 center are housed in the jail building.

“We have to make sure we have the ability to move all of that out into a new location. All of that has to happen,” he said. “And to tie that with the city. They may be waiting on us, and we’re still not out.

“Timing is everything. If everything tied up and we wanted to sell it, maybe it would work, but we have as part of our contract with SMRT a dedicated study to see what we could use the current jail building for in the future.”

The county manager said he has thought about using the jail portion of the building at West Main Street and Porter Avenue as a countywide records’ center.

“I have been thinking that it could be a shared services model because all of these towns have permanent records,” he offered. “We could take a jail cell and say ‘Town of Byron, here’s your permanent records'; 'Town of Bergen, here’s your permanent records’ and actually have a centralized shared service project where all the records from the county come to one area.”

July 13, 2021 - 8:23am

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A frequent contributor to the Batavia City Council scene is suggesting that a package deal combining the current Batavia Police Department headquarters and Genesee County Jail parcels may be the ticket to attracting a potential developer in light of the city’s intention to build a new police station at Alva Place and Bank Street.

City resident John Roach, during the public comments portion of the board’s Conference Meeting on Monday night at the City Centre, asked if anyone was talking to Genesee County leaders about their plan for the jail at the corner of West Main Street and Porter Avenue.

The county is exploring its options as it faces a state mandate to build a new jail, with a site near County Building 2 on West Main Street Road as the proposed location.

“You might get a better deal as a combined parcel,” Roach said. “Find out what they’re going to do and it could have an impact on what to do with the Brisbane building.”

The Brisbane building that he referred to is the former Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St. that sits next door to the county jail. That building -- which may be eligible for classification as a historic landmark -- has housed city police for many years but has deteriorated considerably.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, responding to Roach’s inquiry, said she thought it was a “great idea to speak with the county and understand their plans.”

“The front of the jail is certainly an amazing historic building that I hope would be preserved by the county through their transition, but I believe it hosts Genesee Justice and I don’t want to speak for the county and I’m not sure what they’re actually planning,” she said.

Tabelski also said she wasn’t sure if the timelines for a new county jail and new city police station would line up, but it was something worth looking into.

She pointed out the drawbacks with the Brisbane Mansion, notably that there is no American with Disabilities Act accessibility and there are problems with the layout that hinder the ability of the force to conduct day-to-day business.

“We went over the presentation two meetings ago and we looked at the timeline. The city has been wanting to address this for over 20 years,” she said. “We’ve come forward with a proposal and a feasibility study to use the parking lot at Alva and Bank Street.”

The city manager underscored the importance of finding a “reuse” for the building, adding that the city has no intention of moving staff into that structure.

“So, we’d like to pursue a path where we put it out for RFP to a developer to take that on and bring that on to the tax rolls,” she advised. “To do that in the best manner possible, you want to make your property attractive to the marketplace and by understanding all of the historical elements inside the building, and having technical assistance reports done of the structure itself and the historical elements …”

For those reasons, she forwarded a resolution – which was later passed by Council – to allow the Batavia Development Corp. to apply for a 2021 Consolidated Funding grant under the New York Main Street technical assistance program.

“I think it is City Council’s wish and I know it is the certainly the wish of many in our community to preserve that building as a historical element in our downtown,” she said. “… if (the grant is) awarded, we would go ahead and do that study. We had a plan to reuse the building at the time we move the police department.”

Tabelski said that the grant-funded study would uncover whether the building would qualify as a historic landmark.

If so, that could open the door for a NY Main Street grant, which the city has been successful in obtaining for the Eli Fish Brewing Co. building on Main Street and Theater 56 at the City Centre.

On another topic, Roach asked about the status of a road project to rehabilitate Harvester and Richmond avenues, which is scheduled for the summer of 2022.

Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt said it is currently in the design phase.

In May 2020, City Council appointed the engineering firm of T.Y. Lin International Group of Rochester to provide preliminary and advanced designs with the expectation that they would be completed by the summer of this year.

T.Y. Lin International Group was involved in the city’s Walnut Street Reconstruction Project, the Ellicott Street streetscape project and all of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District streetscape initiatives.

Batavian Robert Radley, PE, is the company’s senior vice president and U.S. East Region director.

Plans call for renovation of Richmond Avenue from State Street to Oak Street and for the entire length of Harvester Avenue (from East Main Street to Ellicott Street). City officials previously reported that 95 percent of the $2 million project will be covered by CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) and Marchiselli Funding* streams.

Tabelski also reported that Jill Wiedrick, the new assistant city manager, will be starting on July 21, and the city is advertising for a permanent Department of Public Works director.

*Given the significant backlog of preservation, rehabilitation and replacement of transportation infrastructure needs that exist at the local level, NYSDOT has initiated a process with metropolitan planning areas and municipalities to revise and align local transportation planning and project selection processes with engineering and economic-based preservation strategies. As part of this initiative, NYSDOT will provide priority consideration for State matching funds, under the Marchiselli program, to federal-aid projects that embrace the Department’s asset management based preservation strategy. Municipally sponsored federal-aid projects considered to be beyond preservation treatments may be considered for Marchiselli funding on a case by case basis. Municipal requests for projects that are considered beyond preservation will be reviewed by NYSDOT’s Comprehensive Program Team (CPT).

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Photo at top: Batavia Police Department station (former Brisbane Mansion); Photo at bottom: Front of Genesee County Jail, which currently houses Genesee Justice.

June 15, 2021 - 1:30pm

Sixteen months ago, Genesee County Manager Matt Landers observed that because of bail reform in New York, it was the “worst time in state history to be building a jail … but it must be built.”

Well, since that time, the COVID-19 pandemic hit society extremely hard – resulting in staggering increases in construction costs – while the legislation that eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenses remains in place despite calls throughout the state to “reform the reform laws.”

On Monday afternoon, Landers updated county legislators of the municipality’s state-mandated obligation to construct a new jail, expressing the view that it may be difficult to get under the $60 million price tag for a 184-bed jail on property just east of County Building 2 on West Main Street Road.

“We rely on experts that do build jails across the county and rely on trends and speak to the interested parties in the community to better understand how large a jail to build,” he said. “It behooves us to take a step back and make sure we update this study. And although it is less than four years old, a lot has happened in four years.”

Landers said that a revised report from Pike Company, project construction manager, is nearly finished.

“I have been told that we are days out from getting a draft of it, and then we will study it and bring it to the attention of the legislature for review before we finalize a report,” he advised. “At the same time, there was a smaller meeting of consultants (with county management) to try to get a timeline established of what a restart would look like.”

He said if the county is to make “meaningful moves forward, we really need to understand what kind of costs we’re looking at for the jail.”

Previously, legislators supported a budget of $60 million.

Landers said that “estimates had us right around there – maybe a shade over.”

“So, when we put this on pause (due to the pandemic), we were working really hard to shave it to get under that $60 million goal the legislature had put in place,” he said.

Landers said he had approved having SMRT, an architectural firm out of Portland, Me., do a cost estimate of the final design, based on 184 beds, with the understanding that the county might lop off cells in increments of eight if necessary. He said he expects to receive that report, including the amount of cost savings by reducing the number of beds, in two to three weeks.

When that report is finalized, Landers said that Graham Vickers, principal/director of justice practice for SMRT, will appear before the legislature to go over it and answer questions.

“The cost of the jail may drive additional decisions,” he said, adding that questions being asked now focus on whether to wait for construction prices to come down before relaunching the project.

Landers said that Vickers indicated restarting in July and putting it out to bid in the fall.

“That would be the ideal timeframe where we could have our project out there for bidding before companies are already set up for the following year,” he said.

Landers said a major reason for the update is the fluctuation in jail population in the county over the past two years.

He reported that currently the county is responsible for 50 inmates with six of those females being housed outside of the county. By comparison, there were 141 inmates in June 2019. At that time, the thought was that a 184-bed jail was the right size. Now, the thinking is that it could be too big.

Landers said the county’s plan to partner with Orleans County is on hold, but Genesee can’t afford to delay the project.

“What we can do is move forward with the jail and be a viable option at some point in the future if Orleans wanted to partner with us …,” he said.

He said recently the idea of adding a backup 9-1-1 center at the new jail – a 20-foot by 20-foot space that would accommodate two dispatchers – came to light, with the possibility of obtaining a grant to fund it.

In closing, Landers said much depends on what happens to the bail reform laws – whether further legislation is passed to give judges more discretion in remanding those accused of a crime to jail.

“Everything swings back and forth, but with the state legislature controlled by one party, I don’t see it swinging too far back,” he said.

County Sheriff William Sheron, who also was on the Zoom call, said he thinks otherwise.

“I believe the pendulum will come back,” he said. “People are reoffending and reoffending … it’s just a matter of time.”

April 29, 2021 - 9:22am

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The Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday issued a proclamation designating May 2-8 as National Correctional Officers' Week.

Taking part in the presentation at the Old County Courthouse were, from left, County Jail Superintendent William Zipfel; Legislator Marianne Clattenburg; Jail Corrections' officers Marissa Jacques, Michael Cox and John Garlock; Undersheriff Bradley Mazur, and Sheriff William Sheron.

The proclamation read, in part, that the legislature "wishes to acknowledge the difficult job we ask these correction officers to perform, locked within a facility for a large part of their day where they must securely, safely and humanely keep those committed to the jail, respecting the rights and dignity of all inmates ..."

Sheron commended the work of the jail staff, stating, "they went through hell this past year (in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic) and came through with flying colors."

Photo by Mike Pettinella.

January 28, 2021 - 8:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Jail, news, batavia.

Press release:

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. reports that an inmate has died after attempting suicide at the Genesee County Jail on Jan. 4.

A Genesee County Correction officer found the 28-year-old inmate hanging from a shower curtain rod at approximately 12:27 p.m., Jan. 4, while making routine rounds. The Correction officer immediately summoned assistance and began performing life-saving measures. The inmate was transported by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo where he passed away on Thursday, Jan. 14.

The inmate is identified as Kyle Adam Scheuerlein, of Batavia, NY. He had been incarcerated on bail in the Genesee County Jail since Jan. 1, following his arrest by the City of Batavia Police Department on the charges of second-degree burglary and criminal contempt - disobeying a court order in the second degree.

An investigation into this incident is being conducted by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the NYS Commission of Corrections.

November 4, 2020 - 9:14pm

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Supported by an audience of department heads and legislators, first-year Genesee County Matt Landers tonight formally presented the municipality’s 2021 proposed budget, a $142,953,227 all funds spending plan drafted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It increases the tax levy by $400,069 but lowers the property tax rate by 31 cents per thousand of assessed value.

No one from the public signed up to speak at the budget hearing at the Old County Courthouse.

That left it to Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein to credit management and departmental leaders for being able to “flex and pivot” to develop a budget that doesn’t override the New York State tax cap, and to Landers to summarize – or “Landerize” as he put it – the path that got the county to this point and set a course heading into 2021.

“It certainly was a challenge to put together a 140-plus million dollar budget in a pandemic, but here we are today able to present a balanced budget that is under the tax cap,” he said.

Aided by PowerPoint slides, Landers presented the following key dollar amounts and percentages for 2021:

  • Recommended All Funds Budget is $142,953,227; a decrease of $759,766 or .53 percent;
  • Recommended General Fund Budget is $110,241,924, a decrease of $3,767,378 or 3.30 percent;
  • Recommended Property Tax Levy is $31,451,727, an increase of $400,069 or 1.28 percent;
  • Tax Rate Decrease from $10.11 to $9.80, approximately 3.06 percent;
  • Recommended Fund Balance Usage of $2,334,857, an increase of $534,822 from 2020 adopted budget.

Although the tax levy is going up, the tax rate is going down due to an increase in the county’s assessment.

To illustrate the property tax impact, Landers showed a slide depicting the median residential household in Genesee County with an assessed value of $106,800. It revealed that the 31-cent tax rate decrease amounts to a decrease of $33.11 in property taxes, assuming no assessment increase.

Barring any last minute adjustments by the legislature, the budget as it currently sits is scheduled to be adopted on Nov. 23.

Landers outlined several parameters that needed to be followed before his team, that included Assistant County Manager Tammi Ferringer and Executive Assistant Vicky Muckle, could dive into the numbers. Those instructions were to keep county support to the various departments “flat,” hold the line on contributions to outside agencies and funding of Genesee Community College, taking a team approach and, per the legislature’s wishes, not overriding the tax cap.

“It was a consensus that we would not be cutting them (outside agencies) but we would be at flat funding, which in itself is asking a lot of some of these agencies that are feeling the same budgetary constraints and costs and COVID-related items that we are,” Landers said. “So, I was pleased that they would accept flat funding, and most were appreciative that we did not cut them.”

He said it was a difficult decision to not increase funding to GCC, which he called “an excellent economic engine” in the county.

Landers also mentioned other factors, some triggered by COVID-19, that carried much weight in the formation of the budget, notably word out of Albany of a 20-percent reduction in state aid for most programs, double-digit increases in health care and retirement costs, $23 million in yearly state mandated services provided by the county – “with no end in sight,” he said – plus a 10- to 15-percent loss in sales tax revenue and decrease in projected interest earnings.

In response to these challenges, Landers pointed out he used more of the unexpended fund balance that he was anticipating and hopes that the county will be able to replenish it over time. He gave credit to former County Manager Jay Gsell for implementing a strategic hiring freeze, furloughing employees and deferring capital projects as the pandemic took hold.

The county also made the decision to reduce its revenue sharing with towns and villages, with Landers stating that the previous agreement was “unsustainable” in this current economy.

On the bright side, Landers said this allowed the county to increase its budget for infrastructure by $1 million next year -- $900,000 for bridges and culverts and $100,000 for roads -- a benefit that will “lessen the blow” to towns and villages because "that money will be going into their communities."

He said the budget also calls for the creation of three full-time positions (a dispatcher and two human resources employees) and a part-time person to assist the veterans service coordinator.

Looking forward, Landers said the focus will be on six areas:

  • Sales Tax Revenues;
  • Status of a Federal Stimulus Package;
  • Status of State Aid Reductions;
  • Status of COVID-19 and a Hopeful Vaccine;
  • Effects of Bail Reform on Jail Population;
  • State Allowing Possible Joint Jail with Orleans County.

“The (new) Genesee County Jail, pre-COVID, was the biggest story going on – right up there with water (the county’s water project),” he said. “It will be getting started shortly … as a consolidation effort with Orleans County.”

At the present time, state law prohibits joint county jails, but Landers said he his hopeful that the governor could change his position in his 2021-22 budget.

Landers acknowledged that legislators could make some “tweaks” to the budget before stating “that it is in the legislature’s hands now.”

Stein closed the session by saying the legislature is determined to fund the operations of this county, adding that the manager’s and budget office “door is open” for people to express their feelings.

“We are here to serve with you and for you,” she said.

Photo: Genesee County Manager Matt Landers at tonight's budget public hearing at the Old County Courthouse. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

June 16, 2020 - 4:08pm

A partnership with Orleans County may be the key that unlocks the door leading to the construction of a new $60 million Genesee County Jail to be located just east of County Building 2 on West Main Street Road.

“Here’s an opportunity for an efficient, 21st century, state-of-the-art jail that is ready to go. We have the designs … we have willing partners to the north and in Genesee County, so we hope that it is something he (Gov. Andrew Cuomo) is willing to get behind.”

Those were the words of Assistant County Manager Matt Landers, reporting on the progress – or lack thereof due to the coronavirus – of the proposed 184-bed jail during a Genesee County Legislature “Committee of the Whole” meeting Monday via Zoom videoconferencing.

Landers said he is hopeful that state laws prohibiting a shared jail could be alleviated and that Cuomo would see the benefit of such an arrangement – one that lines up with the governor’s call to reinvent the way local government operates.

“(Cuomo) had in his budget some easing of the laws, restrictions that made it difficult to have any kind of coordination with jails in the state, but that didn’t make it to the final budget,” Landers explained. “Seeing that there are talks of a potential (federal) stimulus 4 package out there that may have a large infrastructure component to it, this could be something that could be attractive.

“It meets a lot of the benchmarks .. that you’d think the governor would be interested in. It is something that he is continually harping on – reimagining New York and how we do business.”

Along with looking at new ways to facilitate services in line with Albany’s wishes, the meeting focused on five other pertinent areas:

-- Shared jail housing opportunity;
-- Maintenance of the current jail;
-- Cost of boarding out inmates if current jail was closed;
-- Status of activity on new jail:
-- Impact of bail reform, social justice on jail population.

SHARED JAIL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY

According to Landers, who is cochairing the jail steering committee with County Sheriff William Sheron, officials from Orleans County are willing to team with Genesee to explore the possibility of a joint facility.

“Building a new jail with the opportunity to do that with a partner up north – that’s where we’re focusing our energy and efforts right now,” he said. “It’s going to rely heavily what Albany allows and what kind of funding comes out of stimulus 4 on the infrastructure side and what kind of funding comes out of Albany.”

A shared jail could lead to increased efficiency in the delivery of services, with technology likely to stay in play, Landers said, noting the current use of Skype and other video and teleconferencing software.

County Public Defender Jerry Ader said he foresees legislation to allow for a greater use of electronics for proceedings, but “it may take a while and it may not be as much of a cost-savings as we’re led to believe.”

“Right now, our jail is across the street and other than maybe bringing an inmate from the prison, which is a state cost, or if we have female inmates in jails outside the county, which might be some savings, I don’t think you’re going to get the savings you’re expecting just on electronics … that’s just my opinion,” he said.

Landers mentioned that with a new jail, “there’s probably less opportunity for that (type of) savings because it’s not going to be that difficult to transport people from the jail right here in Batavia (compared to having to transport from other parts of the state as has been the case).”

MAINTENANCE OF THE CURRENT JAIL

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said the county will be unable to avoid ongoing expenses (repairs and renovations connected to safety and mandated services) to keep the current jail in the City of Batavia going for, what could be, another three to five years.

In a discussion with the Public Service Committee last month, Hens said that $3.5 million worth of projects at the 40-year-old jail are on the punch list for the next five years if the county is forced to hold off on the new jail.

Concerning the new jail, Hens said to expect a 30-percent increase – or $50,000 -- in his facility maintenance budget to run a facility of that size, and a similar percentage add-on as the cost of doing business in New York State.

COST OF BOARDING OUT INMATES

Sheron said that the state Commission on Corrections recognizes that the county is in a “pause period” and has not indicated it would shut down the current jail.

But in case that did happen, the going rate to house out inmates is $100 per inmate, Landers said.

“It would be sizeable cost on an annual basis if we were forced to do this, if we had a population of 50 or more, but at the same time there would be the opposite cost of running a jail that would help offset that cost,” Landers said.

The assistant county manager noted the good working relationship among the COC, sheriff’s department and the architects and engineers involved with the project, so, “we would have significant lead time if there’s anything brewing that we need to be concerned about to start planning for.”

STATUS OF ACTIVITIES ON NEW JAIL

As indicated, the new jail project is in a holding pattern, but the county has closed on the land acquisition, and the schematic designs of the jail are complete, Landers said.

He said the county has two contracts in force – one with SMRT, the design firm, for about $2.3 million and one with Pike Company Inc., the construction manager, for around $1 million.

Both SMRT and Pike are aware of the county’s plight and “looking forward to getting back to work on this project, just as we are,” Landers said.

To date, the county has spent more than $1 million on the contracts, which are being funded by established jail reserves built up by proceeds of the former county nursing home sale and higher than expected sales tax receipts in 2018, Landers reported.

“We have reserves of about four to five million dollars (the number is around $8 million when considering the jail reserve fund) that are going to be used in the short term to fund these contracts until we get long-term debt financing,” he said. “Once the long-term debt financing comes in, it will cover these contracts and replenish that reserve. So, we need that full reserve to help get through what we are calling the Delta period.”

Landers said that the financing plan has been “blown out of the water by COVID-19” since it was expected to use an increase in sales tax proceeds starting in 2020 to fund the debt service payment on the new jail.

IMPACT OF BAIL REFORM ON POPULATION

Landers said recent changes to the original bail reform laws could result in an increase in jail population, but it’s too early to tell how much as courts remained closed.

Jail Superintendent William Zipfel reported that approximately 90 sentencings have been put off, and predicted that 30 to 45 percent of those people may receive jail time.

“The issue with that is, from district court, they won’t be doing sentencing for in-custody people until sometime in July, but they are starting to sentence people who are not in custody – and won’t have jail time built up,” he said. “I’m guessing our population sometime before this fall is going to come back up that 50 or so level at least.”

Landers said the county jail population in July 2019 was at the level we expected to be at in 2042,” he said. “Going back a year ago, there were concerns that we were building a jail that would be too small because our sizing had grown to what we were projecting in 2042.”

Today, the jail population is at 36, including one female who is housed in Wyoming County.

“This significant volatility is just another reason why -- until we have a clearer picture -- that we’re taking a pause in the timing,” he said.

May 19, 2020 - 11:27am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Jail, County Legislature, COVID-19.

Genesee County legislators, governmental leaders and law enforcement personnel are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to sinking money into the existing County Jail on West Main Street while a $60 million new jail project remains on hold.

Members of the Public Service Committee, maintenance department heads and jail officials engaged in a 30-minute Zoom videoconferencing discussion on Monday, with everyone, at debate’s end, agreeing to spend only what is necessary to keep the current jail functioning at acceptable levels.

 “If the new jail is deferred for any length of time, relative to revenue problems, we have an existing facility that we basically have been duct-taping and bailing twine together for the last couple years with the expectation that we’d have a new facility in its place,” said Tim Hens, county highway superintendent who also oversees capital projects.

Hens said that $3.5 million worth of projects at the 40-year-old jail are “in the can” for the next five years if the county is forced to slam the brakes on the 184-bed, four-pod state-mandated new jail that was moving at full speed ahead in February – just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.

He said that replacement and/or repair of the heating/cooling system, fire protection/sprinkler system and plumbing top the list of items that need to be addressed, estimating the “high priority stuff” at $1.5 million.

“And that’s just looking at the jail, the rear portion of the building. This doesn’t consider the Genesee Justice and the front end of the building, which has its own issues and problems,” he said. “There is easily three quarters of a million dollars that you can put on the front end of the building just from a cosmetic stonework standpoint.”

Operationally, things could become much more expensive should the New York State Commission of Correction (COC) require Genesee County to start housing females at the jail, said Hens, noting that he has had talks with Sheriff William Sheron about that possibility.

“The operational change to do that would be very, very costly. I don’t even know how you begin to peel that off. You’d probably have to do another study. You’d have to parcel out a floor for females versus males, there would be significant capital change to adjust how the jail operates,” he said.

At this time, the jail population consists of 32 men and one woman (who is being held at a neighboring county jail).

Sheron said that extensive renovations would have to be made to the interior of the jail and that programming and compliance changes would need to be implemented to accommodate the female population.

“What that would entail at this point?” he asked. “I estimate millions of dollars to do that.”

Legislator Andrew Young inquired if any word had come down from the COC or anywhere else about directing the county to house female prisoners.

Jail Superintendent William Zipfel answered that one of the reasons for a new jail is so the county could “bring female inmates back into our own jurisdiction.”

“They’ve already taken our variance away for males and weekenders and it’s only a matter of time, I feel, before that will go away for females, and they’ll say, ‘Well, population is down and you’ll have to house them there,’ ” Zipfel said. “I have every reason to believe it will happen if things continue the way they are. I don’t have any reason to believe it won’t.”

Dialogue on putting money into the old jail continued with legislators Gary Maha and Marianne Clattenburg and Zipfel agreeing to not put good money after bad, except for maintenance that needs to be done for safety reasons and to avoid a temporary shutdown of the current jail.

Clattenburg suggested calling a special meeting of all the legislators.

“If we’re going to put money into a jail that we’re not going to use much longer, I think that Legislator Stein might want to make that a Committee of the Whole discussion,” she said.

Hens recommended continuing the design of the new jail to have it ready to receive some favorable bids when legislators get more clarity on their revenue stream.

“You’re going to have some hungry contractors out there chomping at the bit since the private construction has basically been locked down for quite a while now and probably will be for the foreseeable future,” he reasoned.

Assistant County Manager Matt Landers, who is spearheading the new jail plan, said the design of the project is complete.

“We’re there for a four-pod, 184-bed jail; we’re there with the design and ready to go,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of when the dust settles to see that’s going to be what we’re moving forward with. And we’ll continue to have discussions with our regional partners.”

Landers added that county officials have built a solid relationship with the state and that COC officials would understand that “we’re at a reasonable place” with the design and haven’t abandoned the project.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said this is an instance where the county can act upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plea to “reimagine government -- and especially in regard to this incredible cost of the jail project.”

“If we can’t move forward with talking about and demonstrating an opportunity for us to do a shared services model with the jail, we’re missing the boat as far as I am concerned,” she said. “We also need to fully understand what the new impact of social just reforms that went through this last budget that none of us have really talked about because we’ve all been talking about COVID and that’s where our focus has been.”

Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn then wrapped things up with a punch list of maintenance items at the current jail that could pop up in the coming months – two boilers in the basement (estimated at $20,000 per boiler to replace), an old generator (with renting one an option should it stop working), kitchen hood system ($4,500) and replacement of copper pipe in the sewer system.

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