July 12, 2013


County eyes COB security upgrade

Legislators consider 2 options to create secure entrance costing $500K, $1.2M

Staff Reporter

Cortland County legislators are considering two proposals to create a secure entrance to the County Office Building — one that would cost $500,000 and another that would cost about $1.2 million.
The Buildings and Grounds Committee Thursday considered a presentation by Syracuse-based JCM Architectural Associates Joe Maryak, who described the two ideas.
County officials will continue to discuss the idea in coming weeks with the Sheriff’s Department.
The matter was not voted on Thursday. County Administrator Martin Murphy said grant funds could be sought for the project and the county’s existing tobacco settlement funds could be used before dipping into fund balance, stressing the plans are preliminary.
The less expensive option would utilize the existing wheelchair-accessible basement entrance on the building’s east side, Maryak said.
The proposal requires about 600 square feet of space from the Area Agency on the Aging to be used as a security area with a metal detector and screening area inside of the doorway.
Murphy said the plan could be done in conjunction with reorganizing space needs throughout the building. Offices could be moved around as the plans are refined, said Murphy.
It is possible the existing metal detector at the Department of Social Services entrance on the second floor could be used to save money, he said.
The other option presented by Maryak would replace the existing entrance in the center of the building facing Central Avenue, with a secure and wheelchair accessible one.
The existing stairs would be replaced with an elevator and another staircase and a metal detector would be added inside the entrance.
The added expense comes from the excavations that would be needed for the elevator, since the entrance must be wheelchair accessible and a ramp would be too long, Maryak said.
The proposal to revamp security at the County Office Building is coming as the county is considering replacing doors in the building. County officials want to know what type of security system they will install before going out to bid for the replacements.
JCM was paid an additional $3,500 for a security upgrade analysis on top of its $51,500 contract to prepare specs to go to bid for a window and door replacement at 37 Church St., a door replacement at the County Office Building and a window replacement at the gym of the County Office Building.
County officials are contending with what they say are heightened security concerns, given more recent bouts of gun violence in the country and the fact that the building is very easily accessed now. Murphy acknowledges there has never been a security issue in the building, but he says in this day and age it is “prudent to take additional measures” to make a public building secure.
Legislature Chairman Mike Park (R-Homer) said he has found people in the building on weekends when he comes in and legislators have mentioned finding vagrants in the building previously.
The idea of the security upgrade is to create one uniform entrance that all personnel and visitors would have to use.
But Legislator Tom Hartnett (D-4th Ward) faulted the expense of the upgrade, suggesting a simpler solution, to add cameras instead. But officials said a metal detector is needed to prevent someone from entering the building with a gun.
Park said the Legislature has an obligation to further analyze the $500,000 plan, saying that officials must do their due diligence to try to make the building as safe as possible.


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