Government center is taking shape

Still set to open this fall, after six years of scattered county offices


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Photos



  • Photo by Erika Norton The main entrance to the new Orange County Government Center in Goshen will be in the new retangular building, where there will be security and metal detectors.




  • Photo by Erika Norton Orange County officials lead media on a hard-hat tour of the new government center in Goshen on May 12.




  • Photo by Erika Norton Orange County County Executive Steve Neuhaus stands in what will be his new office suite in the new county government center.



BY ERIKA NORTON

— The reconstruction of the Orange County Government Center in the heart of Goshen is continuing to make progress, with the target for its reopening still this fall.

“You're really bringing, what is right now a disjointed county government to a now consolidated government where people can come and really get the services that they have all under pretty much one roof," said County Executive Steve Neuhaus said on a hard-hat tour with media.

Neuhaus said he has seen — even in the last two weeks — “great progress.” There were just studs when he was there a few weeks ago, he said, but now sheetrock is up.



Inside the newly revitalized four-story center, drywall is being installed, heating, ventilation and air conditioning work is being done as well as painting, and site drainage is being completed, according to the Orange County Department of Public Works Director of Facilities Anthony Capozella. The floors that were once uneven are now one level, making the whole building compliant with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

And while much of the interior of the 1970 structure was demolished, the aesthetic of the original architect, Paul Rudolph, can still be seen in different shapes and forms, such as several remaining staircases, railings and parts of the exterior. The two original sections are connected by the new rectangular division with a courtyard in the middle.

The new division, which will have the main entrance, will contain general services, the planning department and a community room on the first floor; legislative offices, and the municipal and family attorney offices on the second floor; the legislative chambers (about 200 seats), the county executive offices and grand jury on the third floor; and the district attorney's office on the fourth floor.

In the other two more Rudolph-styled divisions, the Department of Motor Vehicle, the County Clerk's office plus deeds and records, I.T. and archive storage will be on the first floor. The second floor, where the DMV used to be, will have more County Clerk records and administration, and the Real Property department.

The six courtrooms are located on both the second and third floors. Budget, accounting, payroll, finance and human resources are also on the third floor.

More to be doneWhen the center closed after the floods of Hurricane Irene in August 2011 caused severe damage, county services and departments spread out and relocated to other buildings across the county. But when the new government center opens, those departments will return to the center.

But there is still more work to be done before October, when furniture is planned to start moving in. According to Capozella, more drywall needs to be put up, metal panels need to be installed on the exterior, new blacktop and concrete sidewalks need to be poured, doors need to be installed, ceramic tile need to be laid, as well as bathroom tile and plumbing needs to be installed.

Whether or not the building is complete, Neuhaus said he still plans on holding his 2018 budget presentation at the center.

“Even if it's a construction site, when people see this, this is progress behind me,” Neuhaus said during the tour. “Because they're government center's been closed for (over) five years. If you need to get records, you need to go 15, 20 minutes away to the Clerk's Office in exile, which is on the Valley View campus. You have the County Executive in a separate building. So just for the public to see that progress is being made and we're heading in the right direction would be, I think, a positive message.”

At the latest, by early 2018, both Capozella and Orange County Department of Public Works Commissioner Christopher Viebrock think the public will be using the center for their county service needs. And yes, the blue exterior will ultimately be removed to reveal the grey underneath.


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