POTSDAM — An organization consisting of businesses, economic developers and other institutional stakeholders from around the seven-county north country region has voiced opposition to the proposed closing of Ogdensburg Correctional Facility and Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility.
In a press release issued Thursday, the Potsdam-based North Country Alliance said it strongly opposes the closures of the two correctional facilities. The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on Nov. 8 announced it will close a total of six state facilities in the spring.
“It is difficult to repurpose these facilities, and the economic impact on these communities of closures is disproportionately severe. Any additional facility closures should take place in areas of the State with higher property values, costs, and more robust commercial activity and redevelopment potential,” the release reads. “The North Country has already seen the impact of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) previous closure decisions. These decisions, like the current proposal, have been characterized by a complete lack of planning for the reuse of the facilities and the impact on the affected local communities.”
The North Country Alliance points to a number of DOCCS facilities that have already closed in the north country — Camp Gabriels in 2009; Chateaugay Correctional Facility in 2014; Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility in 2011; Clinton Correctional Facility Annex in 2021; and Watertown Correctional Facility in 2021 — that have not been “repurposed, redeveloped, or sold.”
“They remain vacant and deteriorating, along with over 500,000 square feet of vacant New York State-owned buildings at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg. Collectively these facilities and this space add no value to their communities, to the State of New York, or to residents of the North Country,” the release reads. “It is unacceptable for New York State to close productive, successful facilities in our region while failing to plan for their reuse as it has for decades with the facilities it has already closed.”
The North Country Alliance said that local communities “welcomed and supported” the facilities, and that Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility and OCF “have distinguished themselves for decades due to the safety, efficiency, and overall high standards of their operations.”
“The North Country Alliance recognizes that the employees of the local correctional facilities are not only the primary reason for the safe and secure operation of these facilities, but also that they reside in the North Country, make purchases here, and support our local businesses, hospitals, and schools, thereby contributing to the local economy and making our region a better place to live and raise a family,” the organization said.
The North Country Alliance is requesting that the state overturn the proposed closure of the two facilities and “focus on responsibly redeveloping the already closed facilities in the region.”