Vandals damage Tryon

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government is seeking a state grant to pay for repairs and security at the 515-acre former Tryon Detention Center after vandals caused damage there July 18.

County supervisors say they hope a grant will cover an estimated $96,000 cost for repairs and installation of 6-foot-high security fencing around a pump station at Tryon, which the county plans to turn into a business park after it obtains ownership of the property from the state.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the vandalism.

County Planning Director James Mraz, who also serves as executive director of the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, made the vandalism public Tuesday.

Sheriff Thomas Lorey couldn’t be reached this morning for comment.

“A key piece of infrastructure [at Tryon] is completely inoperable,” Mraz said, referring to a vandalized pump station. “This damage has to be repaired.”

County government and the IDA have been working together for months to gain title to the 56-building Tryon campus in the towns of Perth an Johnstown.

Mraz told the Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development and Environment Committee on Tuesday the latest vandalism is an “unfortunate situation.”

“The timing is never good with something like this,” Mraz said.

Mraz said the July 18 vandalism involved damage to the electrical wiring and equipment at the Tryon wastewater pump station, as well as electrical wiring servicing other buildings. He said vandals were seeking copper, but he didn’t say whether copper was taken. He said the pump station now is inoperable and must repaired.

The state still owns the Tryon campus, and Mraz said the Office of General Services and Office of Children & Family Services were contacted about the vandalism. He said both agencies indicated the state does not carry property insurance on state facilities, so no insurance claim can be filed to repair the damage. He said C.T. Male Associates estimated the damage and security cost at $96,000.

“We’re hoping this is at the high end of what this really is going to cost,” Mraz said.

He said he and county Administrative Officer Jon Stead reviewed the Tryon site, which received “incredible assistance” from the county Department of Solid Waste to better secure the site. He said the department installed a double swing gate across the main access road into Tryon, and a chain and lock around the gate. The county also installed concrete barriers on both sides of the gate to prevent vehicles from trying to drive around the gate.

Mraz said the solid waste agency installed “no trespassing” signs and barriers across a secondary access point into Tryon. County officials said other surveillance measures, which they didn’t want to make public, are being done to bolster security.

Mraz received authorization from the committee to submit a consolidated funding application to the state to cover repairs and damage. The next round of Empire State Development Corp. funding applications are due Aug. 12. The local share for such an infrastructure grant may end up being 50 percent for Fulton County, or about $48,000. Mraz said the IDA board has agreed to kick in $10,000 of the local share if the grant is received. Grants won’t be awarded until later this year.

The IDA board Tuesday also officially moved to close on the transaction to acquire the Tryon property from the state.

The property may be deeded over to the agency within six to eight weeks.

Fulton County already obtained a $2 million state grant to install new water and sewer lines and reconstruct a portion of the existing interior access road at Tryon. That project won’t start until 2014.

The IDA reviewed a state-required environmental site assessment report done by C.T. Male.

Mraz and IDA attorney Kara Lais said although the state couldn’t provide some of the documentation the IDA sought, there are no outright environmental concerns at Tryon.

“There’s no documentation that there is a problem,” Mraz said.

The environmental report found six active above-ground tanks at Tryon – three of which the state removed, but three of which the state refuses to remove. There is a lack of formal documentation from the state on any spills over the years, which Mraz said have occurred. C.T. Male found discrepancies on petroleum bulk storage. Also found were pipes along a building that could be connected to underground tanks the state said weren’t removed because removal would interfere with existing utility lines.

Mraz said C.T. Male also found three monitoring wells. There were questions about paint on a water storage tank, and there are asbestos-containing materials on three of the four buildings that need to be demolished for the road project.

Michael Anich can be reached at