Dutchess Public Defender to get new space, after lengthy debate over bond


Angell: “… be treated with dignity”

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Legislature approved two bond resolutions, totaling about $8.6 million Monday night.  One, just over $3 million for a new Emergency Services Training Center building in Hyde Park, passed unanimously with no debate.
The other, just under $4.6 million for reconstruction of a county-owned building at 45 Market Street, to create space for the county Public Defender, needed over an hour of debate and a 20-minute Democratic caucus, before it passed.
Public Defender Thomas Angell, recounting a history of being moved from place to place, made an impassioned plea.
“We have this hope of having a building that’s actually going to be built for us and it’s going to meet our needs,” Angell said.  “Some place where our staff can feel good about being in.  Some place that’s going to meet the needs of our client community.  Some place that doesn’t look like some sort of secondhand leftover-type operation, but some place where people can come and be treated with dignity.”
Poughkeepsie Democrat Rebecca Edwards called it a “commendable project” but said it is too big a decision to rush through.
“And I don’t think that pausing to consider what our processes are and whether they are appropriate and sufficient, for a month or two, is going to interfere with the long-term goal,” Edwards said.
The underlying issue was a botched original estimate under a previous Public Works administration. 

Balkind: “… a written procedure …”

Current Public Works Commissioner Robert Balkind, conceding it was rare to be so far off on cost estimate, pledged to immediately draft procedures aimed at avoiding future situations.
“Certainly I would absolutely commit to a written procedure that would establish basically what we talked about.  Identifying a project, paying an architect or qualified design professional architect or engineer to define the project, preliminary design and estimate it.”
Balkind urged immediate action or the county could face loss of over $400,000 in state funding.
Republican Dale Borchert concurred, contending the past can’t be undone and “pragmatic” action is needed now.
“We now have a bond resolution, we have bids that were opened and that’s what it cost,” Borchert said.  “Whether we like it or not, whether we support it or don’t, that’s what the project is going to cost and that’s what we need to vote on.”
The vote was 20 to 5, with Democrats Edwards, Francena Amparo, Giancarlo Llavarias, Nick Page and Frits Zernike dissenting.

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