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Public Safety Committee Updated on Public Safety Building Conditions Assessment

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Public Safety Committee Updated on Public Safety Building Conditions Assessment

Thursday, October 17, 2019

County Administrator Jason Molino provided the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee a report on status of the Building Conditions Needs Assessment of the County Public Safety Building, being performed by LaBella Associates.  The $74,000 study, approved by the Legislature two months ago, is conducting a thorough examination of the more than 30-year-old building’s current condition, intended as a first step to help provide guidance as the County considers whether to renovate the existing structure or replace it with a new building.

Administrator Molino said the study’s scope of work has been expanded to include three new alternatives that have been discussed as potential options to house the Sheriff’s Civil Division and Road Patrol, which would allow repurposing of present space for Corrections programming.  The alternatives to be examined include  property at 767 Warren Road, located in the Cornell Business and Technology Park adjacent to the Airport; a potential addition to a future new Airport fire station (crash-fire-rescue building); and either adding on to the existing Public Safety Building or building a new stand-alone structure.  Assessment of all alternatives would include how each could achieve the County’s goal of net-zero emissions.

Some Legislators expressed support of also including analysis of a “pod” jail layout, which they noted is current best practice in design.  However, after discussion there was consensus that analysis of this option was beyond the scope of the current LaBella study.  Administrator Molino said he will ask engineers to identify recent jail “pod” builds elsewhere in the state and what those projects have cost.  Mr. Molino noted that the assessment study is about half-completed and results can be expected within about the next 60 days.

There was further discussion of a proposed Sheriff’s satellite office located at the old highway barn in the Town of Enfield, an idea first advanced last month.  Enfield Town Supervisor Beth McGee addressed the committee, saying there has been much positive feedback about the idea, but that the town board has scheduled a session November 6 (6:30 p.m.) to invite further public input.  Some renovation and upgrade to the space will be necessary, she said.  Enfield resident Robert Lynch also endorsed the idea and asked the County to consider financial support, if necessary.  Sheriff Derek Osborne has expressed general support for the new facility and now awaits further information from the Town.  He will also ask for guidance from the County Administrator regarding whether any legislative action would be necessary to implement such an arrangement.  He told the committee that past documents related to a former satellite office in Newfield did not appear to have had Legislature involvement.

Among other business, the committee heard a presentation from the Department of Emergency Response regarding Emergency Medical Services in Tompkins County where, consistent with the situation across the state and nation, the number of emergency medical calls are increasing and the number of volunteer responders decreasing.  Coordinator of Community Preparedness Geoff Dunn told the committee the department is initiating a program, in collaboration with Tompkins Cortland Community College, to train more responders at the Certified First Responder level, and will engage in an organized effort to support recruitment and retention of volunteer emergency service responders, working closely with the county’s volunteer fire departments.