Posted at: 07/26/2013 11:36 PM
By: Dan Levy
WILTON - Of the four correctional facilities that state officials said on Friday would be shut down within a year, Mount McGregor in Saratoga County is, by far, the largest.
The inmate population (455 inmates) will be shuffled off to other prisons, but on Friday night, the concern in the town of Wilton was for the 322 staff members at Mount McGregor.
They've tried to close Mount McGregor in the past, but when the community fought back, and when corrections officers protested, the state backed down. People aren't expecting that to happen this time around.
"It does not surprised me," said Dean Lee, who has worked as an engineer at Mount McGregor for five year but just accepted a full time bartending job at the McGregor Tavern nearby. "I think a lot of people have seen the writing on the wall."
Lee says he'll be fine by he's concerned bout the rest of the community, not to mention the men and women who still work there.
"Will it affect the economy in this area?" Lee asks rhetorically, "A lot of people say no. I say, yes. I think it will affect it a bit."
We've been attacked with fifteen closures under Andrew Cuomo's administration," Donn Rowe, President of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) said by telephone. "Enough is enough. This has to stop."
State officials insists the declining prison population has forced their hand, a move they say will save taxpayers $30 million a year.
"Where these facilities are located, much of this staff will have to pick up and move their families to far areas of the state, which is basically a forced layoff," Rowe asserts.
State Senator Kathy Marchione (R - Halfmoon) also weighed in on the Mount McGregor closing, calling it "disappointing" and going on to say that "Realizing short term cost savings at the long term expense of upstate is no bargain; we need a practical, sustainable plan for economic development that will address the closure of this facility and ensure the host community doesn't suffer from the loss of jobs and revenue."
By offering transfers to other prisons or to other agencies, the state says they will shut down four prisons without layoffs.
Donn Rowe says he's planning to "fight it" all the way.