January 27, 2022

New entry to County Office Building considered

S.N. Briere/ staff reporter

Cortland County Maintenance Supervisor Chuck Miller points out where he is looking to place a new entry door at the County Office Building to make the building more secure. He suggests placing it only several feet away from the current entrance.

The creation of a new entry way in the current activities room at the Cortland County Office Building would help secure the building more, said Chuck Miller, the county maintenance supervisor.

Miller said Wednesday he expects the Legislature to consider a proposal later this month for a $40,000 project to create this new entrance.

He first spoke of the new design Tuesday during a Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting.

“I did a lot of measuring and looking things over and we realized that the current activities room, which used to be the old women’s gym when this was a high school, has a higher than normal ceiling and we could actually use the current lintel and window space that’s there to create another door space and ramp into the building,” he said.

He said when this was first being discussed back in 2003, the cost was going to be in the millions.

“We’re going to do quite a bit of this piece in house,” he said.

The idea is to have people enter into the new doorway, which is just several feet away from the current entrance, and go through a metal detector that will be brought down from the Department of Social Service.

Pre-coronavirus, people would enter the building and sign in with an officer before heading to whichever department they needed to. If they needed to enter the Social Services Department, they had to walk through a metal detector.

The proposed idea would mean every visitor goes through the detector before entering the building. There would be no additional cost to move the metal detector, Miller said. On top of that, Miller said the space would also be large enough to accommodate some small interview rooms, possibly five or six, that would be used by departments so that people would not need to travel through the County Office Building if they didn’t need to.

To exit, people would then leave from the door that is currently the entryway.

“We’re looking at approximately a month, month and a half” for the project, Miller said.

Legislator Ann Homer (D-Cortland) wanted to know whether the county could still use the social services grant fund to pay for the officers.

“As far as I know that does not change, but that’s a piece Rob (Corpora, county administrator) will have to handle on that end,” Miller said.

“Will we still have security guards upstairs and downstairs?” asked Legislator Richard Stock (D-Cortland).

Miller said his understanding with Sheriff Mark Helms is that two officers would remain downstairs and one officer would be walking around the building.

Right now two officers are stationed at the entrance to the building and two at the entrance to the Social Services Department.

Legislator George Wagner (R-Marathon, Lapeer) asked if Helms had been consulted on the changes and were OK with them.

Miller said Helms was OK with the changes.

“He rather likes what we’re doing,” Miller said.

Corpora said the project will be paid for using money from the Legislature’s professional services line, which gained money when the Legislature voted in February to move $600,000 out of the jail reserve account to spend in three areas:

$250,000 to hire a consulting agency to help the county re-vamp its operations.

$29,675 on membership dues to the Southern Tier 8 and Central New York Regional Planning Board.

$320,325 for a buildings and grounds capital project reserve.

The money would come out of the buildings and grounds capital project reserve.