Schoharie County Jail and Public Safety Facility

Flooded Jail and Public Safety Facility Finally Replaced After 9 Years

Following Hurricane Irene, which dumped eight feet of floodwater into Schoharie County’s existing jail and public safety facility, the building sustained devastating damage and the County was forced to board out 100% of the inmates and relocate much of the building’s operations to other locations.

After years of coordination between Schoharie County, New York State, and FEMA, it was determined that a new facility should be built on higher ground versus trying to flood protect the existing building. Following multiple studies to determine a new location that met the needs of the County, including all utilities and infrastructure, the County broke ground on the new 58,000 sq. ft. facility in June 2018, with much of the work funded through FEMA.

Groundbreaking for the new Schoharie County Jail and Public Safety Facility

Maximum-Security Barrier

The challenge of this project was to design a new, 70-cell, direct supervision facility on a site with wetlands and hilly terrain. The building utilizes the exterior envelope as the maximum-security barrier so that this facility has a minimum amount of perimeter security fence. All exterior recreation yards are adjacent to the housing units for staff efficiency and to provide good visibility and additional natural light into the units.

Housing Units

Because of the efficient size of the facility, as well as to help with staffing costs, LaBella Associates worked with the New York State Commission of Correction to provide three unique and modern direct supervision housing units in lieu of the typical four units that have been constructed around the state.

To accomplish this, all areas had to be designed with additional “sub-dayrooms” to accommodate all the different population needs of the County. Each housing area features a large mural with a matching paint scheme themed to the seasons as a calming and normalizing feature for the inmates.

Additional Design Features

As many other County buildings remain in the floodplain, it was decided that the project would also include a large multipurpose room wired with power and data that could be utilized to provide continuity of government for multiple departments on a temporary basis should a flood of that magnitude occur again in the future.

The final design not only restores the full functions of the County’s public safety facility that was flooded, but also houses a new Sheriff’s administration office, road patrol operations, a criminal investigations unit, and civil and evidence divisions. As a true public safety building, the County also elected to add the probation department and the District Attorney’s office to the facility. Additionally, the project includes a major off-site utility design to bring sewer and water in from the adjacent Village of Cobleskill.