County's office switch plan hits a snag

NORWICH – Chenango County legislators were confronted Tuesday with a glitch in the musical-chairs switch of office space planned for the County Office Building on Court Street in Norwich.

After two years in the making, lawmakers just last week stamped their approval on $2.8 million worth of bids for renovating the former sheriff and jail buildings across the street. The old structures are to be transformed into the West Park Place Office complex for the Chenango County Department of Social Services, with the total cost reimbursable by the state.

Yesterday, members of the Agricultural, Buildings and Grounds Committee learned that the New York State Sixth Judicial District had staked out all 11,872 square feet of the County Office Building’s third floor once the current offices there take up residence in the vacated DSS wing. Local lawmakers had hoped to retain at least some of the room for the district attorney, public defender and probation department offices.

When asked whether moving those offices into West Park Place or space in the DSS wing would be possible, Chenango County Clerk of the Board RC Woodford said making such plans were “premature.” The county has not yet set a groundbreaking date on the new office complex.

Officials of the New York State Office of Court Administration took at least one member of the committee by surprise.

“I didn’t know you had to have it all,” said Supervisor Dennis Brown, D-Pharsalia. “How could you need this much room for a county that’s getting smaller? Some of my taxpayers might complain: ‘The judge’s office is bigger than my living room.’ Plus, looking at the state’s deficit ... it leaves me in awe. How did we get here?”

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