Press-Republican

Local News

June 12, 2012

Bookmobile off the shelf?

ELIZABETHTOWN — The newly shelved bookmobile could see new life as a mobile command post for disasters in the three counties.

The vehicle, owned by the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, was taken off the road because the regional library could no longer afford to operate it.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said Monday that the Library System has offered the bookmobile to the Emergency Services departments of the three counties for use as a mobile communications and command post.

There would be no cost to Essex County, he said, but he’d like the County Board of Supervisors to execute a memorandum of understanding so it could be used when needed.

As examples, Jaquish said the vehicle could be operated during floods, toxic spills or mass-casualty incidents, such as a bus crash on the Adirondack Northway.

“Clinton and Franklin and myself want to convert this to a communications van using grant funding,” he told the Essex County Public Safety Committee during a meeting. “We’ve looked at it. The Library System has agreed to donate this to us.”

He said Clinton County would insure and maintain the vehicle, and it would be housed there. Franklin County would convert it to the command center, installing multiple-agency radios, a conference table and a satellite phone.

He said that if any funds were needed for its upkeep, they would have to come from Department of Homeland Security grants or in-kind services.

COSTLY MAINTENANCE

Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said he had concerns about expensive repairs down the road.

“This vehicle would be in the neighborhood of a $400,000 vehicle,” he said.

Essex County could not afford to pay a share of such costs, Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said.

“This would be very costly to maintain. You’re looking at thousands of dollars for an exhaust system (if it were needed). I know it would be nice to have it, but I think somewhere down the road ...”

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