Town still interested in former prison site

The Watertown Correctional Facility closed in March. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Town officials are still waiting to hear back from the state about acquiring the former Watertown Correctional Facility and its water tower.

After the facility closed in March, Town Supervisor Joel R. Bartlett, who heads the 1000 Islands Regional Local Development Corp., approached state officials about the nonprofit organization acquiring the former prison site for possible resale or redevelopment of the nearly 71-acre property.

He had hoped to have already gotten a response from the state about the inquiry.

“There’s been no communication back from the state,” he said.

Mr. Bartlett confirmed that the local development corporation has two potential buyers for the property but would not provide information about the prospects.

Both prospects are interested in demolishing the old military housing that makes up part of the correctional facility site and redeveloping it for housing, he said.

He’s contacted the state Department and Community Supervision about the site but has not submitted a formal letter to the state Office of General Services about the LDC’s interest in the property.

The old military housing, consisting of more than 40 acres, is located outside the correctional facility’s gates. The prison itself would not have much use for redevelopment, he said.

The water and sewer systems outside of the gates have been turned over to the responsibility of the town.

The all-male prison was one of three correctional facilities the state closed on March 30. Gowanda Correctional Facility, near Buffalo, and the Clinton Correctional Facility Annex, Dannemora, were also closed.

Owned by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Watertown facility, 22951/3147 Swan Road, consists of 90 buildings with 51 inside the compound and 39 outside the compound. DOCCS owns a second adjacent parcel that contains a single-family house.

The LDC is talking to the state about acquiring the property. Part of the deal could be the state demolishing portions of the existing buildings.

The town is also interested in acquiring the correctional facility’s water tower so it can continue to service the Dry Hill housing subdivision and Water District 4, he said.

Watertown Correctional opened in 1982 and was converted into a prison from a United States Air Force facility. The Watertown facility employed roughly 400 people.

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