Some county services face space squeeze, one expands

HUDSON–The Space Utilization Subcommittee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors met earlier this month to discuss whether county departments have enough space in acceptable condition within current county buildings, according to Supervisor Ron Knott (R-Stuyvesant), contacted after the meeting.

Two departments seeking more space include Management Information Systems (MIS) for its offices and the Office for the Aging (OFA) for its kitchen. MIS hopes to create more office space by expanding into a storage room in its current building. But the OFA is considering possibilities that will require more construction.

The OFA kitchen prepares 60,000 meals a year, Mr. Knott said. This includes Meals on Wheels. The OFA offices are in the building at 325 Columbia Street but its kitchen is in Philmont. The Philmont kitchen “does not have the room we need now” and “we have put off some much needed work” on it, the meeting minutes report. Proposals that could allow for expansion include erecting “a new building in Commerce Park” in Ghent or moving into the John L. Edwards (JLE) building in Hudson.

JLE was a school until 2018. The Hudson City School District owns the building and has put it up for sale. The City of Hudson is in the process of deciding whether to buy it and move some of its offices into the building. The county is awaiting the city’s decision. Once it has a better idea of who will own JLE and how much space in it could become available, the county will determine whether to pursue using space there.

But at the February 4 meeting, the “main focus was on 401 State Street,” said Mr. Knott. “I think we’re going to look at upgrading it.” The building at 401 State in Hudson is where the Board of Supervisors meets and some county departments have their offices. Upgrades would include improving the roof and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). For these projects, Mr. Knott suggested a capital improvements financing plan.

At the meeting it was noted that the energy savings from HVAC and lighting modernization, though significant, “will not completely cover costs,” according to the meeting minutes.

One department that currently does have plenty of room at 401 State Street is the county Board of Elections, Mr. Knott noted. A flea infestation at the building forced a temporary relocation of offices in parts of the building last year and since then the county Veterans Service Agency moved to Greenport and Mr. Knott reported that the rooms used by the Board of Elections have been cleaned and rebuilt and are just about ready for re-occupancy. As a result, the elections board will get its old space back in addition to keeping its new space.

If the county does end up with space in a new building, the first currently-used building it would empty would be 610 State Street, Mr. Knott said. Departments currently there include Probation, the Public Defender, and the County Historian. An attempt to contact county employees who work there for more information were not successful.

Both 610 and 410 State Street are, like JLE, former school buildings although they are older buildings.

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