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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 29, 2011
Cops on the move?
By Saranac Hale Spencer
CLARKSVILLE The now empty elementary school in the center of the hamlet could soon be used for the Albany County Sheriff’s office.
Acting Sheriff Craig Apple recently called the Bethlehem Central School District, which decided to close the 60-year old school in March, to ask about renting the space to replace his department’s aging station in Voorheesville.
“I don’t want to force this on them,” Apple said this week. “I want to be embraced by the community.” The two biggest factors weighing on the decision to move there are how receptive the Clarksville community is to it, and the cost of renting the space.
Outgoing Bethlehem Superintendent Michael Tebbano said on Tuesday that the district isn’t yet at point where it could quote a price. The cost and the lease arrangement are the two most important factors from the district’s point of view, he said, stressing that the first priority for the building is to make it into a school as soon as the population requires it. “That’s always going to be an option,” he said of including that stipulation in a lease.
Apple is hoping to get a five-year lease with an option to extend for five years, he said. He hopes to consolidate all of his department’s investigative units, advanced life support, patrol units, and Stop-DWI units at the Clarksville location and move in by the first quarter of 2012. Moving all units to one building would streamline operations and shrink costs, Apple said.
The sheriff’s office would maintain the lawn and playground for area kids and keep a community room for public use, Apple said. He plans to hold a meeting for the public by mid-October to gauge support for the plan.
“The Clarksville school would be a perfect fit,” he said, adding that he wants to make the move only if the community is amenable.
“If it can’t be an elementary school for the kids of Clarksville, it’s good to have it in use,” said Marie Hornick, a Clarksville resident who was active in the push last winter against closing the school. Dozens of residents lobbied for the suburban Bethlehem school board to keep the rural Clarksville Elementary School open it is the only district building located in the town of New Scotland. The board closed the school, citing the cost savings to the district it is now busing Clarksville students to Eagle and Slingerlands elementary schools, both located in the town of Bethlehem.
“We’re hoping that something positive can come out of this for everyone,” Tebbano said of leasing the space to the sheriff’s office rather than leaving the building empty.