Regional Development

Prison-reuse ideas vary

By: DENISE A. RAYMO

CHATEAUGAY — A state report found Chateaugay Correctional Facility could make a good site for senior housing, a college campus or a high-tech-company.

An 88-page reuse plan submitted to Empire State Development also suggests if the state prison closes as scheduled on July 26, it could be used for an agricultural-processing plant, a call center, a medical facility, a public or private-office hub, a retail and hospitality destination, an event space or entertainment venue.

On the other hand, the study says, “the greatest unknown to repurposing the site is not the uses that the site can handle; it is the interest from the private market.

“Given the dearth of institutional and major-commercial users surrounding this particular location, it is difficult to ascertain market interest at this time.”

EXPECTED TO CLOSE

Chateaugay is one of four facilities Gov. Andrew Cuomo expects to close this year although an effort continues to persuade the governor to keep it open.

The medium-security prison has 240 beds that house repeat parole violators.

It opened in 1990 at a cost of about $47.1 million and was the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s first comprehensive alcohol-and-substance-abuse treatment program for inmates.

It was reclassified for parole violators in May 2005.

LOCAL SUGGESTIONS

Cuomo made the news public on July 26, 2013, that Chateaugay Correctional, McGregor Correctional in Saratoga County, Butler Correctional in Wayne County and Monterey Shock Facility in Schuyler County would close within a year.

Plans began immediately to reassign correction officers, sergeants and lieutenants to other facilities, based on seniority, which, as of March 5, left Chateaugay with just 46 working security jobs and 15 in civilian positions.

State Corrections Law states that a report about possible reuse of targeted correctional facilities must be completed six months before its closure date.

Last summer’s announcement was followed by a town meeting in December, when local business and development stakeholders discussed alternate uses for the Chateaugay site, which has 30 buildings on 100 acres and consists of 100,000 square feet of space.

According to John Tubbs, executive director of the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency, suggestions include using the Route 11 site as a regional jail, a youth-detention center or State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision medical facility.

That meeting also revealed the property had potential as a business park with retail-outlet stores, a hotel, bakery or a retail site for Agri-Mark/McCadam Cheese.

GREENHOUSE/BREWERY?

Chateaugay resident Ivan Chase submitted a proposal within the state report to create a greenhouse and brewery on site, using cheap wind power supplied from the Chateaugay Wind Park that Noble Environmental Power operates near the prison site.

But a single new owner or tenant might not be practical unless some of the buildings were torn down, according to the report.

Some of the pluses in the reuse report include the busy Route 11 location of the prison, ample parking available with room for expansion and two drilled wells on site.

But the report cautions that all of the utilities and water service would be shut off in July, so a new owner — depending on how long the property remains vacant after it is decommissioned — would have to consider if the wells and pumping system are still usable.

SOME NEGATIVES

Some negatives about the Chateaugay site are the buildings themselves, which were constructed on concrete slabs so they have no basements.

Because of that, “the reuse potential of many of these buildings is limited,” the report states.

“If the site were to have a variety of uses that were not associated with each other, each building would need separate utility connections, which would occupy ground-level space, making utilization of the site less efficient.”

Also, many of the buildings — such as those used as guard posts, equipment and records storage and the recycling building — are less than 300 square feet in size and do not have heat, hot water or electricity.

“Despite these challenges, the site, as is, is well positioned to be reused for institutional uses or businesses that require campus-like facilities,” the report states.

LAND-USE ORDINANCES

And it says that other development ideas could work there as long as they complied with local land-use ordinances because there is plenty of road capacity, water, sewer and electrical service available and unused acreage on the site.

It concludes with the recommendation that Empire State Development, along with the appropriate state agencies, “work with community groups after the facility closes to outline a disposition process that reflects community needs, regional economic-development goals and the realities of the private market.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

READ THE STUDY

The full report on the reuse of Chateaugay Correctional Facility is available online at: http://tinyurl.com/ponv3lt.

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