Saratoga County

Saratoga County considers new $30M public safety building

63,000-square-foot Ballston Spa facility would consolidate departments
An architectural rendering of the proposed Saratoga County public safety building.
An architectural rendering of the proposed Saratoga County public safety building.

Shovels could be in the ground as early as this spring in Saratoga County for a public safety building that was first discussed more than 10 years ago.

Planning was halted during the economic downturn for the facility, which seeks to consolidate county health and safety services under one roof.

Earlier this month, the county unveiled its 2018 proposed budget, which dedicated $15.3 million for the capital project.

The facility would be built on county property at the corner of County Farm Road and Fairground Avenue in Ballston Spa.

It would house the Sheriff’s Department, probation department, public health services, emergency services, 911 dispatch and communications, and more than 13,500 square feet of shared training and conference space.

Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ed Kinowski said if the project is approved by the Board of Supervisors, construction for the nearly 63,000-square-foot facility would likely begin in the spring or summer.

“When you look at what’s happening nationally and around the world, it’s important to have a centralized location with all services at our disposal,” he said regarding tragic events such as the shooting in Sutherland Springs Texas. “It’s the number one need in our county right now.”

Call volumes to the county’s 911 dispatch center have increased from nearly 50,000 in 2006 to more than 180,000 in 2016.

Galway Town Supervisor Paul Lent said the county was forced to stop its initial planning for the facility.

“The money was needed to enhance the county animal shelter and at the same moment the economy tanked,” he said. “We had to prioritize and because talks were just starting on the project, it was pushed to the back burner.”

Lent added that probation department, which is currently located at 152 W. High St., wasn’t initially included in the facility.

“It’s a better plan today, because we’ve had the ability to step back,” he said.

County Administrator Spencer Hellwig said the probation department could be impacted by Raise the Age, which was signed into state law in April and will increase the age of legal responsibility for criminal actions to 18 years old.

“If they no longer go through criminal court, there needs to be more staff in the department, which would require more juvenille officers as a result,” he said. “While we typically find ways to manage with the resources we have, there comes a point where you need staff to meet the increased demand.”

Northumberland Supervisor Bill Peck said having all health and safety departments under one roof would support a fast response to an emergency.

“It brings together people with common goals and will improve response times,” he said. “This facility supports a long-term need and sets up future generations so they’re in a good position going forward.”

Kinowski said the project’s estimated cost is close to $30 million and the county is doing cost projections in stages.

He added that housing all public health and safety services under one roof also makes economic sense for the county.

“Consolidation is a money saver,” Kinwoski said. “Combining four agencies saves the county money in the future.”

Peck said the county will go through a more extensive design phase in order to have specific design-engineered plans before seeking bids from contractors.

“When we go to bid and receive an actual cost estimate, the board will vote on whether or not to move forward,” he said. “We anticipate that the project will be heavily bid.”

If construction does commence in the spring or late summer, Kinowski said completion would likely be in fall 2019.

Once the new facility opens, buildings that used to house the departments that moved to the public safety building would be reabsorbed by the county, Kinowski said.

“The county is in need of additional space, so this would give departments in the county room to breathe for storage and administrative uses,” he said. “The public safety facility forecasts the need as the county continues to grow.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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