NYS looks at next steps for closed prisons

Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 4:53 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A pleasant surprise for local lawmakers: Recommendations from the state’s Prison Redevelopment Committee.

Watertown Correctional Facility, closed since March of 2021, seems to be one of the state’s priorities.

New York will be seeking requests for proposal, or RFP’s, as early as this upcoming year for both the Watertown facility and Downstate Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley.

“We definitely have a better idea of what can be done up there to help our community. We’re looking more like housing or some type of housing complexes,” said Robert Ferris, Jefferson County Legislator.

Watertown Town Supervisor Joel Bartlett says the town will be heavily involved in the RFP process.

Other recommendations include maintaining heat at Ogdensburg Correctional Facility to prevent further deterioration. The state originally said it would board up the prison, drain the pipes, and keep it cold through the winter.

State Senator Patty Ritchie sent a letter this past summer requesting the utilities at Ogdensburg remain on until a reuse could be identified.

The letter seemingly taken into consideration by the state panel. The report says “DOCCS has committed to keeping Ogdensburg warm based on requests from local officials.”

“I worked as hard as I could to keep those facilities open, that did not happen. Unfortunately, those people who worked there and their families went through a lot and the last thing I wanted to happen was just to let those properties decay,” said Ritchie.

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk and Ogdensburg Mayor Mike Skelly also signed the letter.

“We’re glad that at least a modicum of common sense was seen here and that they’re going to keep the heat on here at Ogdensburg Correctional,” said Walczyk.

“You start supporting our community, our city, and we can go from being a burden, to being an asset in the state,” said Ogdensburg Mayor Mike Skelly.

The keyword here is “recommendations”. But Skelly is hopeful they’ll be adopted.