County Weighing Options For Former Jail

OSWEGO, NY – The Old Jail Property & Planning Committee took another step forward in plans to raze the dilapidated former Oswego County Jail and sheriff’s apartment on Route 481.

former Oswego County Jail
The former Oswego County Jail

At its meeting Tuesday, the committee approved seeking requests for proposals for demolition management (to do the abatement of any hazardous materials and do the demolition).

Asbestos has been found in the mechanicals of the former jail; however, the roof is the main concern in regards to asbestos.

“You can’t demolish a building if you know there’s asbestos in it,” explained Phil Church, county administrator. “It has to be remediated before you demolish.”

“We could,” interjected Dave Turner, director of the county’s Community Development, Tourism and Planning Office.  “But then, you’d have to treat the whole thing as hazardous waste and it will more than double the cost.”

Old jail cell
Old jail cell

The resolution to seek proposals passed unanimously.

The committee also discussed post demolition options for the site and space needs.

“When the jail building comes down, you may or may not want to abandon and relocate the Department of Motor Vehicles and records center. The records center is rapidly approaching a point where we will not have any more room there,” Turner told the committee.

“The records center is nearly at capacity,” agreed Michael Backus, county clerk.

The DMV and records center are on the same tax parcel as the old jail.

“So, if your decision was not to do anything with that structure and leave that functioning as a county office, you’d have to sub-divide that parcel in order to sell the jail section of the parcel,” Turner said. “The feeling was, at the previous meeting, that the combination of the two along the river would create a much better option for potential purchasers. It would bring the county a higher price than just (selling) the portion of the parcel that has the jail on it.”

There are a variety of options the committee can consider for the property, Church said. They can recommend selling all of the parcel or just parts of it. And, they also need to consider expanding the records center or relocating it, he added.

bathroom at old jail
A bathroom at old jail

“If you sell the entire property, then you have to look at where to locate the DMV and the records center. There are a variety of combinations there,” he pointed out. “You can identify an existing building somewhere in the area to purchase or new construction.”

County sites are also a possibility, he said, using the Bunner Street complex and the Buildings and Grounds complex as examples.

“If we sold this property for $150,000 an acre (similar riverfront property has sold for $200,000 to $250,000 an acre) … we’d make around $2.7 million,” committee member Jacob Mulcahey said. “We should move out of there and sell the entire parcel for top dollar.”

“These are all possibilities. We can make recommendations,” committee chair Morris Sorbello said.

He urged the committee to consider the various possibilities for the site and discuss them at the September meeting.

1 Comment

  1. Somebody is smoking dope if they think they can get that kind of money for vacant riverfront property out there. It is a sheer drop to the water and the banks are sliding away.

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