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Schenectady County Social Services leases new space

The ceiling at 487 Nott St. leaks. Telephone and electrical wires are exposed and in the way. The basement has had a history of problems with mold and asbestos. And, if you're an employee for the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Schenectady County and you work on the first floor, you have to walk through Dawn Oliver's office to use the only available bathroom.

The building is disrespectful to our customers, said Oliver, director of temporary financial and medical assistance of the DSS building. "When we have hundreds of people coming through the doors every day, it's essential that we have enough space."

But, things are about to change for Oliver and the rest of the 80 county employees that work in the Nott Street building.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, the Schenectady County Legislature voted unanimously to approve a lease agreement between the county and the owner of the Galesi Group that would move DSS to a 47,000-square-foot building at 797 Broadway. The building used to be occupied by Schenectady International.

"It's time to do this," said Legislator Karen B. Johnson, D-Schenectady, who sponsored the bill. "It's time to move on with a new facility."

The 20-year lease begins in January 2009, costing the county approximately $16 million over its term in rent and utility costs. The lease could be renewed for an additional term of 10 years at the option of the county.

The county also has the option to purchase the building on the fifth, 10th or 20th anniversary dates of the lease and on the fifth and 10th year of the renewal term.

The lease includes the use of 200 parking spaces and stipulates that the Galesi group will provide for the costs of design, construction, maintenance and repair costs. Galesi will be responsible for stabilizing the slope behind the building and will install drains to remove water from the soil. The property also contains an 83,000-square-foot building, which will not be rented to the county.

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