Steuben County demolished two buildings Wednesday morning in Bath to create more space for its services.
This is the county’s first capital construction campaign in almost a decade. The last capital project it worked on was the Health Care Facility which opened in 2008.
“It’s an interesting question,” County Manager Jack Wheeler said. “Why are we still in a space crunch when we’ve reduced about 350 staff people over the past 10 years?”
Wheeler says it’s because New York state is placing additional requirements upon the county in its service areas where it’s out of room physically, specifically court related functions.
“The state is placing new requirements on us for public defense, and we’re in the process of hiring more attorneys and literally have no place to put them in our county office building,” Wheeler said. “We converted a copy room for the last attorney that we hired.”
Demolition of the two buildings took place on East Morris Street in Bath right across the office building.
He says the location will be convenient for residents and employees.
“The public is used to coming here, and if they’re doing other business at the county, it saves the public time and also creates efficiencies for staff having departments co-located near each other,” Wheeler said.
Another project on Mount Washington will serve as a storage and record keeping building.
“We have about 10,000 square feet of county records stored out at the old Health Care Facility which we longer own, so we needed to find a permanent house for those county records which, by state law, we’re required to maintain,” Wheeler said.
The two projects are estimated to cost $8.7 million dollars. The county legislature meets on Monday monday during it’s regular session and will figure out the final estimation, but the number is not expected to change.
“It’s a win-win for both the county and the residents,” Wheeler said. “It provides us the space that we need for years to come. It also does it in an economical and fiscally responsible way.”
He adds that the projects should be completed by summer or fall of 2018.