WATERTOWN, NY — Assemblyman Scott Gray (R-Watertown) and state Sen. Mark Walczyk (R,C-Watertown) are calling for immediate contact and transparency with New York State Department of Economic Development Commissioner Hope Knight, following the announcement at last week’s Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Economic Development that the shuttered Watertown Correctional Facility would be part of the state prison commissioner’s redevelopment project. The Watertown Correctional Facility has been shut down since 2021.
“While this is positive news for Watertown, the commissioner has not had contact with my office about what the plan will entail moving forward,” said Gray. “Former Gov. Cuomo’s snap decision to close this facility was a misguided one that negatively affected members of law enforcement and inmates of the prison.
“Prison closures put our brave correctional officers on the unemployment line or force them to relocate to other facilities and be away from their families. Inmates of Watertown were sent to over-packed facilities around the state, and this has undoubtedly contributed to the alarming rise in violence within the prison walls.”
Gray said he is joining Sen. Walczyk in calling on Commissioner Knight to work with their offices and local officials, as this plan will have a major impact on Watertown.
“While the closures of Watertown and Ogdensburg Correctional Facilities were decisions that I do not agree with, both buildings are primed for a new lease on life. State-led incompetence has caused the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center to become decrepit and a waste of resources. We cannot afford this level of neglect again, as these buildings still have a lot of life left in them. I will continue to work with Assemblyman Gray and strongly urge Commissioner Knight to work with our offices and other local leaders to personally visit these buildings to uncover their untapped potential,” said Sen. Mark Walczyk.