Both sides say Clarksville deal close

As budget vote looms, BC still looking for leverage on two empty buildings

— After nearly four months of negotiations, a deal may soon be struck to use Clarksville Elementary School as a substation for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

Undersheriff William Cox has been overseeing the negotiations for the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Craig Apple said he was told “minor modifications” to the lease agreement are being made between attorneys, but the contract is “close to a done deal.”

“We both are very eager to move this along,” said Apple.

Bethlehem Central School District Superintendent Tom Douglas also agreed that the deal was close to being finalized.

An initial proposal agreement unveiled at a Dec. 21 meeting of the Board of Education said the district would collect $210,000 from the county over the life of a five-year agreement. The payments would increase by $6,000 each year, starting at $30,000 for the first year of use, or $2,500 per month. It is not known if those terms will end up in the final agreement.

The Clarksville Elementary building has been closed since the summer of 2011 after the district shuttered the school due to declining enrollment and budgetary needs. The district would save about $23,800 in utility costs from renting the building, since those would eventually be the responsibility of the county.

BC Operations and Maintenance Director Gregg Nolte said teachers and staff who worked in the building were relocated over the summer. Left over equipment and furniture was moved over the winter into three classrooms and five small storage areas, since the sheriff's office would not be using the entire building.

“The facility fits really well into the programs and office space they want to have,” said Nolte. “Any changes they do, we will be involved in. And they understand it is our intent to possibly open (the school) up again someday.”

Apple said the Albany County Sheriff’s Office recently received a grant through the Department of Homeland Security for several upgrades to the building. The money will be used to install a fence, several cameras and an additional generator so the substation can stay in operation in emergency situations.

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