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No takers for Camp Gabriels

October 1, 2009
By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

GABRIELS - A reuse report released Thursday names two users who may still be interested but contains no suggested or planned reuse for former minimum-security prison Camp Gabriels.

Interested users can still inspect the facility, but the state Department of Correctional Services plans to file a certificate of abandonment with the state Office of General Services.

All equipment and supplies have been removed, according to the report, and Camp Gabriels is in the process of being decommissioned. The heat will be turned off, and the windows boarded. The report notes that, over time, this will lead to deterioration due to moisture and mold, but the decommissioning plan recommends services such as heat be terminated for fiscal reasons.

"With the exception of the wastewater treatment system, all systems have been prepared for long-term disuse," the report says.

The report says the U.S. Army and National Guard toured the property on Aug. 8 and discussed its possible use as a simulated training location. Mt. Sun Solar company officials also contacted DOCS on Sept. 2 to discuss its use as a possible location to manufacture solar panels.

The federal Bureau of Prisons toured the site on July 29, to investigate its potential use as a minimum-security prison. According to the report, it recently contacted DOCS to say the site did not suit its needs.

"This is a huge disappointment," state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, in whose district the camp is situated, said of the report. "They're doing nothing but abandoning it."

Little said she had not been informed that the Bureau of Prisons wasn't interested, or of the military's and Mt. Sun Solar's interest.

"Based on the interest shown so far, it is reasonable to anticipate difficulty in attracting a responsible party for reutilization," the report reads. "At some point, in the interest of public safety, it may be necessary to consider the demolition of all buildings and restoration of the site by re-grading and the introduction of topsoil and seeding."

The difficulty of getting businesses to locate in the Adirondack Park is why Little and others fought so hard to keep Gabriels open, she said. Little also said she doesn't think the state should abandon the investment it has made in the facility.

"We really need to find something to go in there," Little said. "We need some kind of economic activity in that site and in the area."

There had been talk earlier this year of turning Camp Gabriels into a rehabilitation facility for criminals with alcohol and drug problems, in partnership with St. Joseph's Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake. However, St. Joe's spokesman Jim Grant said Thursday afternoon that the state had declined to maintain the facility as such.

Little said state officials seemed to think the camp was too far from New York City, where much of the state's prison population is from, but that she would discuss it with the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Citing declining inmate populations, the state closed Camp Gabriels, along with Camp Pharsalia in Chenango County and Camp Mt. McGregor in Saratoga County, on July 1. The reuse plans for the three camps were released Oct. 1, as required by state law.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer also proposed closing Camp Gabriels in late 2007, but this was removed from the budget following widespread protests from North Country residents, unions representing prison employees and state and local officials.

The report says restrictions on the land Camp Pharsalis is on make it unlikely that sale or transfer of it to another government entity is legal.

Camp Mt. McGregor was attached to a medium-security prison, Mt. McGregor, and its buildings will be reutilized by the existing facility.

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Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or nbrown@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

 
 

 

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