WILTON — The state is spending nearly $2.8 million to replace windows and repair masonry at eight buildings at Mount McGregor Correctional Facility, just months before the facility in Wilton is to be closed.
State Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon, said the construction work, which she observed during a recent tour of the prison, demonstrates that the state Department of Corrections plan to close Mount McGregor and three other correctional facilities was not well thought out.
“We have a governor who is telling us he is saving us money,” she said in a telephone interview. “And at the same time we are paying for reconstruction to the tune of millions of dollars to reconstruct a prison that’s slated to close. That makes absolutely no financial sense to me at all.”
Thomas Mailey, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the construction contract was awarded in June 2012, more than a year before the department announced the prison closure plan in July 2013.
It was determined that canceling the contract would have cost as much as continuing it, because custom windows had been made, building materials already purchased, and insurance and bonding arranged, Mailey said.
Work is expected to be completed by March 15, “and when complete will leave the buildings in weather tight condition protecting these state assets,” he said.
The work was part of a capital improvement plan for the facility that the state prepared and designed in 2009 and 2010.
In July 2013, the Department of Corrections announced a plan to close Mount McGregor, a medium security prison, and three other facilities in July 2014.
The Chateguay medium-security in Franklin County, Butler medium-security prison in Wayne County and Monterey shock incarceration facility in Schuyler County also are set to close.
About 320 employees at Mount Mcgregor would be transferred to other facilities, with no layoffs, under the plan established to reduce costs in the state prison by $30 million annually, the Department of Corrections has said.
The cost of the renovations at Mount McGregor does not change the $30 million savings estimate, Mailey said.
Marchione and four other area legislators spoke at a rally New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association held at the prison Wednesday to call for the state to keep it open.
Marchione said she toured the prison later Wednesday, and saw buildings under renovation, as well as several dormitories that have recently been renovated.
“One of the things that I absolutely saw with my own eyes is that there are various ongoing renovation projects with workers, scaffolding and other construction equipment,” she said.
Marchione said she toured several dormitories, the dining hall, the chapel and the infirmary.
Marchione said the infirmary treats patients from other prisons, not just Mount McGregor.
Mailey confirmed it is the primary infirmary for Hale Creek Correctional Facility in Johnstown and Moriah shock incarceration facility in Essex County.
When Mount McGregor closes, inmates from those facilities would be treated at either Great Meadow Correctional Facility or Coxsackie Correctional Facility, he said.