What the future could hold for soon-to-be-closed Watertown prison

WWNY What the future could hold for soon-to-be-closed Watertown prison

TOWN OF WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Within 2 months, the Watertown Correctional Facility will close. Then what happens? We looked around the state where there are other empty prisons and listen to what leaders have to say.

At this point, Watertown Correctional Facility closing its doors at the end of next month is happening.

As the employees transfer to other prisons, the buildings will sit vacant and it could be for a while.

Town of Dannemora Supervisor Bill Chase knows this problem. Lyon Mountain Correctional in his town has sat empty for almost a decade.

“There is a roof issue there, the paint is coming off the walls, but the facility, it has a very strong building, but it would take some money to clean it up,” he said.

Now, Chase is about to see another facility in the town close. The Clinton Correctional Facility annex faces the same fate as Watertown - set to close at the end of March.

“There just seems to be a little lack of respect for the northern communities that have actually taken on these facilities when no one else wanted them, when there was a need for them,” he said.

In Livingston County, near Buffalo, its prison has been vacant for the past 2 years. The county administrator hopes to make strides this year to get it redeveloped, but it’s the state who markets the property and New York has a handful of empty state prisons to sell.

“Nothing against these folks who are going to be charged with the redevelopment, but they have a portfolio and your prison that is now closed and will be closed for the next x amount of months or years unless anybody does anything with it, is just one piece of a multi-prison portfolio that is in someone’s charge to try to redevelop,” said Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle.

Officially, the state Department of Corrections says it’ll work with the Office of General Services and the Empire State Development Corporation to find ways to reuse the facilities, including the prison in the town of Watertown.

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