The County Corner: A Good Deal For Taxpayers – A Good Deal All Around

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By Rockland County Executive Ed Day

The Sain building in New City has become an uncomfortable place for the county employees who work there and a money pit for taxpayers.

But now we have a chance to sell this albatross and use the profits to help right the county’s financial ship.

It’s an opportunity Rockland can’t afford to miss.

The building, located across the street from the county office headquarters in the heart of New City, is falling apart.

The front steps are cracked, the ceilings leak, the air conditioning units have to be replaced, it does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two years ago, some workers had to be relocated when an asbestos-covered pipe started to leak.

It would cost taxpayers at least $10 million to fix – a true example of throwing good money after bad.

The building was never meant to house county workers: it was built with a restaurant on top and a swimming pool in the basement. The restaurant was never used and it’s been decades since anyone swam in the basement pool.

Now we can sell this falling apart building and reap the advantages of a clean ratable that will generate property tax revenue without straining local services.

And we can clear the way for new housing specifically created for seniors – something that is vitally needed as Rockland ages.

A developer from Massachusetts has made an offer to buy the property and replace it with senior housing. National Development would knock down the existing six-story building – an eyesore – and replace it with a two-story apartment with 64 units surrounded by landscaping

And the company is willing to pay $4.51 million for the property. That’s $510,000 more than the appraisal.

The town of Clarkstown, which will have ultimate responsibility for approving what is built on the site, is looking upon the proposal favorably.

Rentals are a rapidly growing segment of the real estate market for seniors. The senior housing proposal fits in with the comprehensive plans for both the county and the town of Clarkstown.

The sale of the Sain building was part of the budget approved by the Legislature in December.

Revenue from the sale has already been allocated in the budget. Failure to sell the building will mean a $4 million deficit – something I am not going to allow to happen.

Correcting any deficit created by the failure to sell the Sain building will be painful. But I will do what I have to do to protect our finances.

This offer gives us more than we anticipated – more than half a million more.

We have plenty of room to move employees from these very cramped quarters in the Sain building into Building A at the Yeager Center, where there’s a lot of usable empty space.

It makes no sense to create new space for workers in our other New City buildings, which are already being used efficiently, when we have plenty of empty spaced close by in Pomona.

The plan to sell the Sain building for a profit, create senior housing, move employees to the Yeager center in Pomona is a win for everyone. But we don’t have forever.

We need to close on this transaction by the end of the year and there’s much that needs to be done between now and then to make this deal happen.

If we want to take advantage of this opportunity that will benefit taxpayers, county workers and the elderly, we need move now.

I look forward to working with the Legislature to making this plan a reality.

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