October 4, 2013

Editorial: Rally to save Chateaugay prison


---- — We knew the residents of Chateaugay and surrounding communities wouldn’t give up the fight to save the state’s Chateaugay Correctional Facility, due to close July 26 of next year.

And they haven’t. In fact, they’ve been gearing up to do battle with the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

A rally is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Chateaugay Recreation Park to heighten awareness, garner and show support for keeping the facility open and detail what will happen to communities if the prison is shuttered.

Among a multitude of negative results of closure would be the loss of $53,000 in annual revenue for the wastewater treatment facility in the Village of Chateaugay. That would equate to an increase of sewer fees by $135 a year for residents.

Retailers would be hurt as well, not just in the short term but for years to come.

According to the 2010 Census, the village’s population was 833 and can ill-afford to lose its largest employer; 111 local folks work at the facility guarding and rehabilitating 234 inmates, six cons short of the maximum number for the facility.

It seems like the North Country has been targeted for prison closings in recent years. Camp Gabriels in Brighton was closed in 2009 and Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility was shut down in 2011.

We’re all for New York state looking for ways to save money and reduce taxes, but instead of looking for waste and redundancy in the many state departments and agencies, it would appear budget cutters are selecting areas that are efficient and pulling their weight.

And the Chateaugay facility has a particular, very specific mission in the state’s prison scheme. It houses short-term parole violators. It seems like a cog in the prison wheel.

Further, prison administrators have worked long and hard to reduce its operational costs. Only 13 years old, the facility is in good condition and is scheduled to hook up new natural gas lines and a wind turbine intended to cut energy costs next year.

Correctional facilities have long been a player in the North Country landscape. They are and have been major employers for many years, offering higher paying jobs and better benefits than others in these parts.

Additionally, they’ve played a role in stemming the flow of young adults to other areas of the country, allowing many to return to the place they grew up after training and job stints in other prisons.

Attend the rally Saturday. Help save another local prison from being wasted.