State apparently spent $10M on Ogdensburg prison it plans to close

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 5:11 PM EST
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - Why would someone spend $10 million on a place that’s closing? It appears that’s just what the state did at Ogdensburg Correctional Facility.

Behind the razor wire you can see the new heat piping for the prison. It’s part of a $10 million heating system revamp that’s just finishing up.

Just as the prison is about to close.

“When you spend almost $10 million in taxpayer money just, like, recently and then slate the facility for closure, it’s not right,” said state Senator Patty Ritchie (R. - 48th District).

The project is laid out in a report provided to the prison’s community advisory board. It was obtained by 7 News Tuesday. It says the project will be completed in January.

“When you’re putting those kind of upgrades in, to all of a sudden to be on the closure list, I think it’s blindsiding the community,” said Ritchie.

The state Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said it considers a “variety of factors” when deciding on prison closures. The department did not respond to a 7 News request for information on the heating project.

“Is there really any thought process and consideration going into it Or are they just throwing darts at a New York state map,” said Mike Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, or NYSCOPBA.

The project involves heat piping, heat pumps, air handlers and other systems. It includes digital controls. State comptroller’s reports indicate nearly $2 million was spent on extensive roof repairs just a few years ago.

Of course, a completely revamped heating system could make it easier to reuse the prison as something else. But, the state’s record on prison reuse is poor. All one has to do is look next door to see what happens once state facilities close.

“The fact that sitting right behind it is a psychiatric center they’ve allowed to decay and fall down, year after year, even though we have tried over and over again to get something done there,” said Ritchie.

DOCCS says the prison closure will begin immediately and be finished by March.

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