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Herkimer County takes over environmental studies for jail site

By By PAT BAILEY

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Herkimer County lawmakers say they are closer than ever to having a site for their new jail.

The proposed site is on Route 28 in Herkimer, on the former Pharmhouse plaza site.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has given the county the go-ahead to take over the studies they have been doing of the Route 28 site. The chairman of the committee who oversees jail operations, Len Hendrix, said that if everything comes back okay, he thinks there is enough support to allow building the jail there.

"We have talked," Hendrix said. "The entire board has been well aware of it, and discussed at length. I think we have enough people that are interested in proceeding with the process that we can go ahead."

The proposed site is located in between Herkimer and Middleville, and newly-elected legislator Steve Keblish Jr. represents that district. Keblish's predecessor was opposed to spending millions to build a new jail, and wasn't too excited about the jail going in his district.

Keblish, however, said "build it there," and that the county has bigger financial problems to be concerned about.

"The benefit would be getting this jail off the ground and replacing a facility that, in the long run, will cost the taxpayers more money than building this new facility will," Keblish said.

The county has allocated $177,000 for the land studies of the site. If they do build, they are looking at a 130-bed facility costing between $31-33 million.

In order to borrow the money needed to build the jail, it will take a "super-majority approval" - 12 of the 17 legislators to okay the bonding, according to Hendrix.

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