Rallying for Watertown Correctional Facility, still hoping for change

Rallying for Watertown Correctional Facility, still hoping for change

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Signs could been seen up and down Watertown’s Public Sqaure all with the same message: Save the Watertown Correctional Facility.

Governor Cuomo gave the facility it’s 90 day notice back in December.

In response, several rallies have occurred, even if the decision may seem inevitable.

“Right now there is not much movement, but we are pushing for it hoping that the Governor will change his mind,” said Bryan Hluska, Central Region VP for New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOBA).

If Watertown Correctional Facility does close, the closest prison becomes Cape Vincent, which is still about a half hour away. Beyond that, the employees will need to drive into St. Lawrence County to either Gouverneur or Ogdensburg Correctional making the commute even more difficult.

But Hluska says some may not even get that lucky.

“We may have some people on the road for three hours, four hours. We don’t know at this point, Some people may decide to pick up and move, you know?” said Hluska.

North Country Assembylman Mark Walcyzk and Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith came to show their support.

Walcyzk says Watertown Correctional Facility is one of the more efficient in the state’s system, leaving him asking question’s about the decision.

Mayor Smith agrees, saying the closure doesn’t make any sense.

“I get the economics of it. We all in local government deal with it, the economics. I know the state is having a very difficult time and I understand and appreciate that portion of it, but there are plenty of other areas in the state budget that they can cut,” said Mayor Smith.

Hluska says if the decision stands, the 400 current employees will all be relocated based on the Governor’s notion of no layoffs.

Where they go however, will be based on seniority. Leaving many in a guessing game for the next couple of months.

So, rallying for change is the community’s way of keeping the hope alive.

Copyright 2021 WWNY. All rights reserved.