November 29, 2021

Jail roof ‘third of the way’ done

Legislators: Maintenance that could have prevented leak was delayed

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Crews are shown working on the roof of the Cortland County Jail in Cortland in February 2019. File photo.

The Cortland County Jail’s roof repair work is about a third done, and work is beginning on other repairs inside the jail, including fixing a 4-inch water main with previously known problems.

As county legislators heard an update Wednesday about up to $700,000 in repairs to the jail — closed since Jan. 24 after leaks caused damage — they also acknowledged that the maintenance that could have prevented the leak was delayed because the county failed to enter a contract in time with a service provider before weather grew too cold to do the work.

“As of yesterday, it was about a third of the way finished just by judging by the eye,” Undersheriff Budd Rigg told legislators during a joint Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting Wednesday. “They move pretty quickly when they get a good day, so yesterday was a good day, quite a bit got accomplished.”

On Jan. 24, a 12-foot seam opened in the jail’s roof, letting water in. By 8 a.m., 2 to 3 inches covered the floor of a dormitory facility that can house 30 inmates. Water continued to leak in other places.

Sixty inmates were evacuated to other counties’ jails. Cortland County is paying about $90 a day, per inmate, to keep them elsewhere.

That started about $5,500 a day, but has increased because arrests are cyclical. Rigg said the county was responsible for 77 inmates Wednesday, or almost $7,000 in boarding costs.

However, Rigg said that planners are taking advantage of the inmates being elsewhere to repair the water main. He did not say what the issue was.

“There was another potential catastrophic thing that could go in our plumping system, so in this process we’re actually going to do that repair as well,” he said. Paying for it could come either from an existing budget line for repairs, or from leftover money from the emergency repair allocation.

The compromised pipe is 4 inches wide. “That’s bigger that a fire hose …” Rigg said.

As for other repairs, Rigg said:
• The flooring in the dorm area has been removed and is being prepped so cement can be poured.
• A header over one of the cell blocks that had water coming out of it is being replaced. Cortlandville resident Pam Jenkins asked why preventive maintenance measures weren’t taken.

“That’s the same question I had because we’ve been saying something for over five years about the leaks,” Rigg said.

Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Beau Harbin (D-Cortland) said the company that had previously done the roof sealing. was not sealing it properly and the county was at the end of a 10-year warranty. The county decided to enter an agreement with Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance in Ohio last year to seal the roof, but missed the time frame to get the sealing work done.

“The window closed before we could get all those contracts signed and get people up on that roof to start laying the material that had to be at a certain temperature,” Harbin said. “We missed the window by just a few weeks of getting that roof finally sealed the way Undersheriff Riggs and Sheriff Helms were telling us that we needed to get it done.”