Camp Gabriels purchase approved - Press-Republican: Local News

Camp Gabriels purchase approved

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Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2014 3:28 am

BRIGHTON — The State Office of General Services has approved the sale of Camp Gabriels.

A closing date has not been set, but the 91.7-acre former prison property, with its dormitories, kitchen and numerous out-buildings, is slated to sell for $166,000 to Adam Fine, of Pomona, and co-buyer Eliezer Hersh, of Spring Valley.

Fine’s bid was the second highest at public auction last October.

Office of General Services spokesman Joe Brill said the high bidder, Mohammad Ibrahim of Elmont, who offered $210,777 for the property last fall, was unable to complete the transaction.

OGS spokeswoman Heather Groll said Friday that the sale to Fine was approved this week.

Fine and Hersh plan to build a summer camp and winter educational retreat, using much of the existing Camp Gabriels infrastructure.

They are looking to add some athletic fields and an in-ground swimming pool with a dome cover for winter use, according to documents the Press-Republican obtained from the Adirondack Park Agency through the Freedom of Information Act.

The use proposed on the APA application is marked “group camp.”

‘NO NEW BUILDINGS’

Thus far it appears that Fine, Hersh and their engineers have not been able to test systems and infrastructure shut down when the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision closed the facility.

In a letter to APA, Fine’s attorney, Michael Hill at Miller, Mannix Schachner & Hafner LLC of Glens Falls, said they needed to restore power to the property.

“Once power is available, the water supply system (including wells, main storage tank, pumps, supply piping and chlorination equipment) and the sewer and wastewater treatment system … would be cleaned as necessary and inspected and tested.”

Hill said “that all of the above-mentioned systems were turned off when the NYS Department of Correctional Services vacated the property six years ago. The systems and equipment apparently have not been maintained or exercised in the interim, making it imperative that they be tested as soon as power is restored.”

Hill said the new owners would reuse the buildings largely as they were designed, and that “no new buildings would be constructed and no existing buildings would be expanded or structurally modified.”

ONCE A COLLEGE CAMPUS

A few of the buildings would be repurposed for a camp and retreat.

The Visitor’s Building would become the family dining area; with the security building as classrooms and offices. 

The former Camp Gabriels Chapel is slated to be the night activity room, according to the project description filed with APA.

The inmate-records facility would be used for workforce sleeping quarters. And renovations are planned for the dormitory buildings, mainly repairs, cleaning and new paint.

Property owners of seven adjoining lots were notified of the intended sale.

To the southeast, Niagara Mohawk has a transmission line in a 100-foot right-of-way.

The state owns 129.2 acres of neighboring Wild Forest land, and Paul Smith’s College owns 17.5 adjacent acres.

For 10 years, the college had a campus on the property and owned 220.9 acres next to it.

The college sold both lots to the state in 1982 for $635,000. Then, 220.9 acres of forestland was subdivided for addition to the State Forest Preserve. The 91.7 acres were used as the prison site and zoned “state administrative.”

SPORTS COMPLEX

Initially, the camp buyers planned to clear 6 acres for athletic fields. But that decision has since changed, according to APA documents, and they intend to use the former pheasant farm area to build for sports fields on 2 or 3 acres.

The “sports complex” at the new camp would include “a 40-foot-by-80-foot state-of-the-art, in-ground heated swimming pool with a removable dome. The pool will be surrounded by a fenced patio and will be lit for nighttime use. The clearing and leveling of the fields, as well as the building of the in-ground pool will be done by licensed contractors,” according to the project description provided by Fine.

Project documents do not indicate how much would be invested in the property to reclaim its use as a camp and educational retreat. Fine could not be reached immediately on Friday.

His attorney, Hill, did not return calls made on Friday.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com

LEARN MORE

The public is invited to an informational session about reuse of Camp Gabriels set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, in the Paul Smith's College VIC auditorium. 

"This meeting will provide a forum for the new owners, their legal counsel, APA representatives and potentially other involved state agencies to provide information about the plans for the former Camp Gabriels and answer questions from our residents, the general public and media," Brighton Town Supervisor Peter Shrope said via email on Friday.