West Carthage Mayor pens letter addressing a new use for a closed prison

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown Correctional Facility has been closed for more than a year now.

As the number of unhoused rose in parts of the North Country, West Carthage Mayor Scott Burto has an idea of what can be done with the unused prison.

“I think this is a perfect opportunity for that commission and Jefferson County to work together to redevelop Dry Hill into a dorm apartment style facility,” said Burto.

Burto is referring the Prison Redevelopment Committee formed earlier this week by Governor Kathy Hochul. He drafted a letter to the committee along with several area elected officials.

“The opportunity and the timing is perfect for us to reach to them to discuss the reuse of Dry Hill for a country homeless shelter,” said Burto.

Jefferson County Department of Social Services has been dealing with the rising number of unhoused over the last several months. One of the concerns has been a lack of locations to house the individuals.

“Throughout the county, with the two hotels burning down and the closures of the apartment building in the City of Watertown, its really put a big burden on the Department of Social Services and the availability of housing,” said Burto.

7 News reached out to several of the officials the letter was addressed to. The Office of Empire State Development said that they “look forward to fruitful discussions” and “look to find the best outcome for Watertown and the surrounding areas that relied heavily on this facility for their livelihoods.”

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