DANNEMORA -- As the closure of Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility looms, state and local officials are already discussing possible future uses of the site.
Officials gathered recently for a special meeting to share ideas about development of the site.
"I can't believe it can't be used as a central storage (for the six upstate prisons)," Dannemora Town Supervisor Americo "Ves" Pivetta said.
"I think it'd also be perfect for a youthful offender home."
Pivetta said the latest closure is the third crippling blow to the town since the 1960s when, first, Republic Steel closed mining operations and, later, the Lyon Mountain school shut down.
"We're in a time where we have to get some help .... and we should start (planning), the sooner the better."
Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) agreed that advanced planning is needed and suggested that a steering committee be formed to begin the collaborative process.
Since 2006, she said, the location has undergone $2.6 million in renovations at some of the site's 20 buildings, which include garages and dormitory areas.
The area, which has its own sewage system, recently had its 14-acre property assessed for $5 million, she said, making it a valuable asset in the community.
And not only has the facility provided dozens of local jobs and support to area businesses, officials said its operations also contributed about $28,000 a year for water use in the town, which means the prison's closure could significantly impact water rates.
"If they're not going to pay, that's going to affect everyone in town," Little said, as she and others discussed details of the facility's actual closure.
FINAL DATE UNCERTAIN
With information still limited, officials only know that the prison will close in January but say a limited staff will still provide security at the site until it is no longer state owned.
It was unclear how water payments would be addressed between the closure and any future sale.
Pivetta also wondered if the town could benefit from the facility's surplus property, such as equipment, which, he said, could help the fire-ravaged Highway Department.