OGDESNBURG — Mayor Jeffery M. Skelly wants Ogdensburg residents to visit his downtown movie theater Saturday to sign a petition asking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to spare Ogdensburg from the possible closure of one of the community’s prisons.
According to a press release issued by Mr. Skelly, the petition will be available from noon to 5 p.m.
Face masks are required and social distancing practices will be observed. Signers are asked to bring their own pens, although pens will be available to use and take home.
Mr. Skelly said the idea for the petition drive came from Deputy Mayor John Rishe.
Ogdensburg has two medium-security prisons, Ogdensburg and Riverview.
“The city is already struggling financially, and the pandemic business closings have made things worse,” Mr. Skelly said in his press release. “Sales tax will be lower, property tax collections may be more difficult and private businesses are struggling. If we lose a prison, it would be a perfect storm for economic collapse in this community that could take decades to recover from.”
Mr. Rishe recently wrote a letter to Gov. Cuomo asking him to not close a prison in Ogdensburg.
“While I understand that these facilities should not be viewed as job creating institutions, the reality is that some correctional facilities are needed and some areas of the state can withstand a prison closure much better than Ogdensburg,” Mr. Rishe wrote. “Many communities have a much more diverse economy with many private sector employers or other public sector jobs.”
Mr. Skelly said a special message will be placed on the marquee at the Ogdensburg theater throughout the day on Saturday, encouraging people to stop and sign the petition in support of keeping the community’s prisons. He said the petition will later be sent to the governor and other state officials.
“We really do need as many signatures as possible on Saturday,” Mr. Skelly said. “Regardless of politics the people of Ogdensburg need to have their voices heard in Albany regarding the important economics the prisons bring to us here.”