County Executive’s Corner: Lights off at the Sain Building

By Rockland County Executive Ed Day

It’s especially fitting that as my first term as County Executive comes to an end and I plan for the second, we are getting ready to turn the lights off at the Sain Building.

It’s fitting because the Sain Building represents both the difficulties of our past and the promises of our future.

Emptying out the Sain Building demonstrates that we are embracing our future head-on.

Another County department—Consumer Protection–just moved out of the Sain Building into spacious and newly renovated quarters in building A at our Pomona complex.

The 16 people in Consumer Protection join their colleagues in Personnel, the Youth Bureau and Economic Growth and Tourism who have already made the move.

By the first week in December, the Department of Finance will join them. We can then close the Sain Building, an eyesore on New Hempstead Road in the middle of New City that is in deteriorating conditions and has become an uncomfortable place to work.

It’s a step that’s long past due.

Rockland County bought the Sain Building in 1974 for $1.4 million. Details of that deal have been mostly lost to history.

But looking back you have to wonder why a County government would spend taxpayer money on a weird-looking building with a restaurant on the top floor that never opened and a cement-filled swimming pool in the basement.

It never really worked as an office building because it was never designed to be one.

We are much more careful making investments with the taxpayer’s money now then we were then.

The Sain Building has become costly to maintain. It is more than ready to meet the wrecking ball.

A buyer has been patiently waiting to spend $4.51 million — $510,000 over its assessed value – to knock down the existing structure and build a two-story assisted living complex.

It’s a plan that Clarkstown has embraced, along with the promise of property tax revenue from a new ratable that doesn’t require too many services. An added bonus – the developer has offered a small pocket park in the front of the property bordering New Hempstead Road for the public to enjoy at no charge.

Continuing to reshape the County footprint to make our government more efficient and less costly will be a priority for my second term. The Legislature already started this process when it sold the Bank of NY building next door to the Sain Building.

We are already seeing that vision become a reality at the Dr. Robert L. Yeager Health Center complex in Pomona.

We are creating a health and human services hub – a place where County residents can access all kinds of services both from our local government and from non-profits that will rent space from us.

That work will continue as we focus on the future needs of our citizens.

Selling the empty Sain Building will enable the County to move forward on another front – settling our contracts with employee unions. I had originally planned to take the $4 million-plus from the sale of the building and pay down our deficit. But through our hard work and careful planning, the $138 million deficit I inherited is projected to be down to zero in the next year.

That means that we can take some of the proceeds from the Sain Building sale and put it toward contract settlements and give our employees the raises they deserve.

I ask the Legislature again to declare the property surplus and authorize the sale of the empty Sain Building.

Give our dedicated employees new contracts. Get rid of an eyesore in the center of New City. Add a ratable to the tax role. Create a health and human services hub to better serve our residents.

Work with me to embrace the future.