Bethlehem Central School District closed Clarksville Elementary School starting in the 2011-12 school year to save money. Now, it appears the Albany County Sheriff's Office may be interested in leasing the property for use as a substation.
Photo by Charles Wiff.
The status of negotiations regarding Acting Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple’s proposal to use the Clarksville Elementary School for consolidated department operations all depends on who you ask.
Apple said a member of his office has participated in multiple conversations with officials from the Bethlehem Central School District regarding the idea. He said the price quoted by the district for operations at the shuttered school would be $80,000 a year for utility costs alone, plus additional rent to be paid by the department to the district.
“Quite honestly, I’m not very happy with the results of the meeting,” said Apple, referring to a phone conversation on Monday, Oct. 31. “The number seems to be a bit high, and it might be out of our reach.”
But BC Superintendent Michael Tebbano said he was unaware of the telephone conversation, and declined to comment on the numbers revealed by Apple. He said Apple is working through an inspector, and “working around the periphery,” instead of tackling the negotiations directly.
“There’s a perception problem going on here,” said Tebbano. “He has avoided coming into a meeting with us.”
Apple said an inspector in his office had conversations with the district office as late as the afternoon of Nov. 1. Tebbano said he was aware of emails sent back and forth, but not of telephone conversations.
“If he (Apple) wants to rent the building, all he has to do is come to a meeting, and we can talk about the details,” said Tebbano.
The proposal would see the department consolidating operations currently in Voorheesville and Cohoes under one roof as a cost-saving measure. Apple has even floated the idea of turning part of the school into a community center, and previously held a community forum to pitch the idea to nearby residents.
“We’re trying to do this in an effort to consolidate our law enforcement division and save money with personnel, but I also want to be able to save money with operating costs as well, and really make a strong, efficient move,” said Apple. “With a number that high, I’m close to what it’s costing me in Cohoes for one building. Granted, I’d still have savings, but I was really hoping to get a better bang for my buck.”