LYON MOUNTAIN — With the future of the Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility property still uncertain, the Jan. 31 closure date remains a reality.
All inmates had been moved from the facility by mid-December 2010 as Department of Correctional Services staff worked to finalize the shuttering details, such as turning off the water and sewer.
Despite Monday's deadline, officials say DOCS will continue providing minimal security and upkeep at the property until its jurisdiction is formally turned over to the Office of General Services.
That move could take several weeks, Bureau of Land Management Division of Real Estate Development Real Estate Officer 1 Richard Bennett said Friday during a teleconference with members of the Lyon Mountain Transition Coordinating Council.
"It isn't going to be just walked away from," Bennett said as he tried to assure state and local leaders that the property will be strategically closed in an effort to minimize any lasting "mothballing" damage.
"Engineers are going to make sure it's done properly."
The facility's closure has been in the works since early last year when Gov. David Paterson targeted Lyon Mountain in a sweep of prison closure, saying that closing the facility would save $7.2 million in annual operating costs and $950,000 in capital-project spending.
News of the decision rocked the community, with residents fearing a devastating economic downfall.
During the Transition Council's second meeting, held Friday, Dannemora Town Supervisor Americo "Ves" Pivetta again expressed his concerns about higher tax rates and the impact on area business.
Andy Chase, who owns the sole convenience store in the immediate area surrounding the property, has told town officials that he has already experienced a 15-percent drop in sales in recent months, Pivetta said.
With the Transition Council strategizing on possible re-uses for the property, the site's future will remain in limbo until DOCS and Office of General Services officials sign a declaration of abandonment and its title is officially turned over.
After that, the property could be handled through a number of options, including public auction, public offering through request for proposals, sale through Empire State Development at fair market value or sale through special state legislation.
The land is classified as state administrative, and the Adirondack Park Agency has said that any reclassification won't happen until the property is sold.
NO STATE AID
Empire State Development officials remained adamant Friday that they will continue to closely work on the facility's future but that the agency has no funding to aid any marketing efforts.
Preliminary inquires have been made about the property but none with a strong interest so far, Pivetta said.
United Way of the Adirondack Region Executive Director John Bernardi, who heads the Transition Council's Community Impact Committee, said officials are now focusing on how to address the closure's major impacts.
"We've identified three or four major areas of impact, particularly the water and sewer, real estate and retail," he said.
But, Bernardi said optimistically, "We're off to a good start."
About a dozen people attended the second Transition Council meeting, including Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, Clinton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Adoré Kurtz and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru).
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