Uncertain future for three Herkimer County buildings

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HERKIMER, NY (WUTR-TV) — The future use of three notable Herkimer County-owned properties is unclear, after county officials said a re-purposing study came up short of expectations.

The buildings in question are the old county court house, the adjacent county treasurer’s office building and the existing jail–all along Court Street.

Herkimer County Budget Officer and Purchasing Agent Sheri Ferdula says the county received a space utilization study from William Taylor Architects, after the county paid $23,000 to have one commissioned.

“We were looking for more of a financial solution, what was going to be the best option and the most economical for us, and it really didn’t give us that kind of information,” Ferdula said.

However, Ferdula noted that the county did not explicitly ask to have a financial solution outlined, saying, “In their defense, the original RFP (request for proposal) was very broad. We did it very quickly and just said, ‘here’s what we have, here’s what we’re looking to do. Give us what you think is the best option.'”

The study says the old county court house, where the Sheriff’s Office administration team works, could be sold or used for long-term storage and staff could move to the existing jail.

Paint on walls inside the structure is peeling, cracked and bubbled in many places; the study indicates that renovation to the building would be a significant capital investment.

The report also suggests that the Sheriff’s Office administration be moved to were the new jail is being built off Route 28 in Herkimer.

This was originally planned to happen in construction plans for the new jail, but Ferdula says the county decided not to build an administration building, due to rising costs.

Ferdula said the treasurer’s office, between the old court house and the existing jail, “has a lot of space” and the county “may be able to remodel” it to house Sheriff’s Office staff.

“It is still on the table that maybe somewhere down the road we build an admin building up at the new correctional facility,” Ferdula said.

Responding to the study’s notation that sheriff’s administration members could move to the existing jail, once decommissioned, Ferdula said “in order to make that into an office space, the entire building would need to be remodeled. The cost of that would be astronomical.”

Ferdula said the county is looking at the prospect of how much it would cost to demolish the current jail, and that grant opportunities to renovate the old court house are being explored.

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