VALATIE–To house a new county Sheriff’s Office substation at the American Legion Hall on Main Street the legion agreed in 2010 to lease the space for the substation to the village $3,000 a year. That arrangement changed earlier this month when the Village Board and the legion agreed to a month-to-month rental for $500 a month.
The new deal was retroactive to October of this year when the original lease expired. If it lasts for a full year, the village would pay double what it now spends to house the substation for one deputy.
The legion post has come up with an idea the legion commander believes could reduce the cost to the village. But village officials have their own plan to cut the cost of leasing the legion hall: they intend to move the substation to the Martin H. Glynn School building two blocks away from the hall after the village and town conclude their purchase of the school from the Ichabod Crane School District.
Kinderhook town Supervisor Pat Grattan said at a November 19 town meeting that the contract for the sale of the school building is close to being finished, and the Glynn School Committee, which includes town and village officials and community members, was scheduled to meet Thursday, November 29 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall in Niverville. The municipalities have not announced a date when they will move to the Glynn School building, but village officials have said that they hope to be in the building this winter, possibly in February.
In a phone interview this week Mr. Grattan said he supports the plan to move the sheriff’s substation to the school. He said his goal is to keep all the government agencies under one roof. The Town Board plans to move the Town Court to the old school as well.
“With the increased rent of the room at the legion, and the uncertainty of the future of the availability of the building, we don’t really have a choice but to move the substation,” said Valatie Mayor Gary Strevell in an email to the Columbia Paper about the situation.
Tom Burrall, commander of the American Legion Post #47, which owns the hall that currently houses the substation, acknowledged that the change in the lease is a complicated issue. But he stressed that legion is not kicking the sheriff out of the legion hall. Mr. Burrall said in an interview that it costs the legion roughly $400 to $450 a month just to pay for the heat and air conditioning for the substation room, which contains computers and camera equipment used to monitor Main Street.
The Town of Kinderhook currently pays for the phone and Internet connections for the substation.
Mr. Burrall said the Sheriff’s Office told him the sheriff would pay for heating the space, which would relieve the village of that cost. But after the Ichabod Crane Board of Education got voter approval last spring to sell the school building to the village and town jointly for $1, county officials decided to wait and see what happens to the substation before the county pays for the heat. The Sheriff’s Office is funded by county government.
Addressing what he said was a rumor he has heard around town, Mr. Burrall said, “We are not selling the legion post.”
As examples of how the Legion is using the hall, Mr. Burrall said the veterans’ organization has several events planned: it is the Toys for Tots drop-off spot for the area and many people attend weekly Zumba exercise classes there. The legion has also been renovating the space.
The idea of a substation on Main Street was proposed several years ago after a large turnout at a Neighborhood Watch meeting following a series of break-ins on Main Street. Mr. Burrall said he offered the space in the hall, thinking that $3,000 a year in rent would be enough.
“We want the deputy’s presence on Main Street,” he said, adding that the new agreement should cover the expense for housing the substation there. “The $500 should be more than sufficient,” he said. His solution to the issue would be to have the County government pay heat and electric for the room, while continuing to have the rent paid by the village, the internet paid by the town, and the legion will be in charge of the upkeep room.
“Everybody would have a piece of the pie,” he said.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .