Schoharie residents voice concerns over new jail site

SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Schoharie residents are pleading with county officials to not build the new public safety building near their homes and farms.

It took years for Schoharie County to receive federal money to help build the new jail after the old one was damaged by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. Currently, it’s plotted for the Seebold Farm just north of the village on Route 30.

But some residents are concerned about having the prison, which is part of the public safety facility, built in their backyard.

“The best solution here is how about in nobody’s backyard,” Schoharie resident Doug Cornwell said. “Let’s buy some property that meets the needs that is more secluded, more isolated, and not surrounded by 40 private residences.”

Neighbors also fear for their beautiful Schoharie Valley views.

“How about people who live along Barton Hill Road and have property looking down on the jail lit up 24/7,” Schoharie resident Linda Nass said. “That is a concern.”

The $37 million proposed site also raised concerns of what else the busy facility could bring.

“And then the noise; and the noise that will bounce off Terrace Mountain,” resident Kris Chase said.

Flood recovery manager Bill Cherry said the site has already been approved.

“At this point we’re moving forward with that site,” he said. “To find a spot that has access to municipal water and sewer almost by definition there will be homes there.”

Regardless, the questions kept coming at the county board meeting Monday night.

“What’s wrong with our original jail site back there?” resident Ron Rose asked. “Why can’t that be modified to meet the needs of today?”

But Cherry said placing the new facility on the old location would affect grant money.

“If we were to say, ‘Oh, we’re going to put it right back where it was,’ New York State would immediately withdraw their 25 percent,” he explained.

Also discussed at the meeting was the threat of a lawsuit. Some residents said the site is zoned for single purpose use, and they said the jail doesn’t fit that definition.

However, county leaders said they aren’t concerned, and they believe the purpose fits.

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