County departments continue move into new government center Department of Motor Vehicles scheduled to move back in mid-March
Photo by Erika Norton
More and more departments are moving back into the new $64 million Orange County Government center, which suffered severe damage after Hurricane Irene in 2011.
BY ERIKA NORTON GOSHEN — Goshen residents are starting to see more and more activity at the new Orange County Government Center, as departments continue to migrate back to the $64 million facility. While two of the original 1960s structures designed by architect Paul Rudolph remain, the new 200,000-square-foot building will house a number of departments that were relocated throughout the county after severe flood damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011. According to Deputy Commissioner of Department of Public Works James Brooks, around 450 employees will move back to the main building.
“I'm definitely excited, and I think it's going to improve services because you're going to have everybody under one roof,” said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, whose office has already moved into the new government center from his previous perch on Matthews Street in Goshen. “We've had meetings here where it's like, wow, this is a lot easier than before where everyone was really like refugees — all over the place.” Neuhaus said the building will also better accommodate taxpayers, when they're able to stop at the Department of Motor Vehicles — which will move back in mid-March — and then meet with one of the legislators. There are also a number of improvements made on the original building, such as a modernization of the HVAC system and different types of insulation. The old building had more than 75 different roof elevations, which caused many problematic leaks, but now that number has been cut in half. But most importantly, the building is now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), making the building much more accessible for everyone in the county, according to Neuhaus. The old building was not ADA compliant. What's in and what's comingSo far, the following departments have already moved into the new government center building: Budget Consumer Affairs/Weights and Measures County Attorney County Executive District Attorney Human Rights Legislature General Services Information Technology Both the new Legislative Chamber and the new Grand Jury room are already seeing some use as well. The new Legislative Chamber will allow each legislator from 21 districts — along with minority, majority, and independent leaders and the legislature chair — access to the Powerpoint presentation from his or her seat. In the coming weeks, more departments are expected to make the move back. The Department of Human Resources is scheduled to be in the new building on Feb. 1, Finance will be there Feb. 7, and the Real Property Department will relocate in mid-February. The County Clerk's Office is also scheduled to relocate in mid-March.
The other buildings the county government has been using and renting since the government center closed in 2011 will return to the private sector and new renters, according to Neuhaus. The buildings that have housed various government departments over the past six years include 30 Matthews Street in Goshen, 124 Main Street in Goshen, the Parry Building at Valley View Center in Goshen, the Emergency Services Center on Wells Farm Road in Goshen, and 18 Seward Avenue in Middletown. “That will save the taxpayer money where we don't have a monthly rent charge, but it will also let those people that occupy now, which hopefully won't be government, they will now be renting that space, filling that space, and paying full taxes on it, where we weren't paying taxes on the space that we were using," said Neuhaus. "So, that's going to be a very significant impact to the Goshen community.”