Labor unions and legislators are keeping up their push to keep Mount McGregor Correctional Facility open, even as Moreau town officials have proposed redeveloping the facility for a gambling casino resort.
“That’s their prerogative and that’s their business. But I don’t look at any of this as a done deal, as of yet,” said Donn Rowe, president of New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents correction officers.
The Moreau Town Board on Monday voted 3-2 to recommend the Mount McGregor property — located in Moreau, Wilton and Corinth — as a site for a casino.
“The facts are it’s closing July 26. ... There’s no way it’s going to stay open,” said Moreau Supervisor Preston Jenkins on Thursday in a telephone interview.
But Rowe and others said they’ll continue their fight, at least through the upcoming legislative session.
The union will join the Public Employees Federation, another state government employees union, in a “union solidarity” rally
Jan. 29 at the state Capitol in Albany to protest proposed closure of prisons and facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.
“We’re hoping to have a conversation with him (Gov. Andrew Cuomo) and his staff about rethinking the closures,” Rowe said.
In July 2013, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced plans to close Mount McGregor, a medium-security prison, and three other correctional facilities in July 2014.
The Chateguay medium-security prison in Franklin County, Butler medium-security prison in Wayne County and Monterey shock incarceration facility in Schuyler County also are set to close.
State Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, said she, too, hasn’t given up on keeping the prison open.
Marchione said legislation she introduced in September to require approval of the Legislature of any prison closure plan now has 10 Senate co-sponsors, including two Democrats: Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, and Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg.
Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libuous, R-Binghamton, is another co-sponsor.
Marchione said the Legislature should have a voice on prison closures, not just the governor and his administration.
“Everything shouldn’t be left to the governor. So it’s a change in law,” she said
The only clout state legislators have now is through the state budget process, said Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, another co-sponsor.
Marchione said she will continue to push the legislation, even if Mount McGregor closes.
“I’m hoping that it would be able to stop it, slow it down or postpone it,” she said Friday in a telephone interview. “But if it can’t, I think it should be looked at and voted on anyway, because there will be another one coming down the road similar to this.”
Wilton Supervisor Art Johnson said it’s wise for officials to consider reuse proposals, but they must still push to keep the prison open.
Johnson said he has asked the Association of Towns to join the effort to keep the prison open.