It's been about a year since the Cuomo administration shut down a handful of prisons across New York. And while they have downsized the staff working at these facilities, many of the actual buildings are vacant as the state looks for a buyer. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman takes a look at one property for sale and the impact its closure is having on the nearby community.
SCHOHARIE COUNTY, N.Y. -- State officials these days love saying how New York is open for business. And part of that business is real estate. That is selling dozens of property and excess infrastructure. And when it comes to four closed prison facilities -- cell blocks, sewer systems and all -- the state is a motivated seller. The problem is finding an enthusiastic buyer.
“I believe a private entity could go there, but I have no idea what they could use it for,” said Summit Town Supervisor Harold Vroman.
Vromann is the Town Supervisor of Summit, in Schoharie County, about an hour outside of Albany, with a population of about 1,000 residents. His town was the site of a minimum security prison camp that employed 100. The area was hit hard when the state closed the prison in 2011 and last year's flooding made things worse.
Vroman said, “It's just one more thing that's just devastation to the community.”
The state moved forward with a prison closure plan in 2011 that reduced the number of vacant beds by 3,800, a move applauded by budget hawks. But it left the state with unused facilities, including the 37 building site in Summit that sits on nearly 20 acres. After last year's floods, the state kept the facility available for the town's use as an emergency center.
“I think they've done a fine job. They actually kept the facility available for us at the county throughout the winter in case we needed it for anything from all that devastation from the flood,” Vroman said.
Vroman says he wanted the county to purchase the site, but that effort failed. As to who would buy an old prison, well, he's not really sure.
“It's a tough question. The building's up there -- an EOC -- an emergency operations center -- like when the flood was going on, you need a facility that could take care of at least 60 people and you need a place for them to eat, sleep, bathroom facilities and that place could have provided that. But again, you have find what the cost is,” Vroman said.