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Towns say they’ll fight for prison

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CHATEAUGAY — The Chateaugay Town Council further discussed ways it could help save the Chateaugay Correctional Facility at its regular meeting on Monday.

The decision to close the facility was announced by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on July 26. It is scheduled to close one year from that date.

The Town Council unanimously agreed to a resolution opposing the decision to close the facility and will draft a resolution supporting it.

“We can’t lose without a fight,” said Councilman Fred Cook.

Constable Supervisor Michael Shea said he was going to present the Chateaugay Town’s resolution to his board at its meeting on Sept. 12.

“I’m sure the rest of the board will agree with me and adopt it,” he said.

Burke Supervisor David Vincent said his board passed a resolution this month at its regular meeting.

“We were going to send it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but County Legislator Billy Jones said he wanted us to keep it so he could collect the rest and send them all in together,” Mr. Vincent said.

Noting that many residents work at the prison, he said its closure would be “a devastating blow.” “We can’t afford to lose taxpayers,” he said.

Chateaugay Town Supervisor Don Bilow said he would ask supervisors and mayors in Franklin and Clinton counties to write their resolutions of their own.

The Chateaugay town and village boards have been planning ways to try to save the prison.

Chateaugay Deputy Mayor Bob Bessette said that he is “cautiously optimistic” but that “it’s an uphill battle.”

During the recent town and village organizational meeting, officials discussed seeking public support and setting up a task force. Mr. Bessette said they plan to contact other communities that saved prisons from closing. He cited Ogdensburg and Moriah.

The county Board of Legislators also opposed the decision to close the facility, passing a resolution Aug. 1.

“To lose 111 jobs in the north country is a devastating blow,” Legislator Tim Burpoe, D-Saranac Lake, said this month. “I think that since the loss of the Plattsburgh Air Force base, we haven’t seen a loss of so many jobs.”

The news release regarding the facility’s closure noted that there will not be any layoffs from the closing of the facilities; all staff will be transferred to others.

However, Mr. Jones said many of the staff at Chateaugay like working where they are. “Most of the staff is there because they want to be,” he said in July. “It’s a unique facility. It has parole violators there.”

The corrections department reported that the inmate population has decreased by 15 percent over the last 10 years. Eliminating Chateaugay and three other prisons is expected to save $30 million a year.

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