Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly says New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul has a perfect opportunity to show the North Country she cares about the local economy by facilitating the transfer of the shuttered Ogdensburg Correctional Facility to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority.
“We are in a unique and beneficial position by having the Ogdensburg Bridge and Authority in our community and right next door to our now-closed prison,” Mr. Skelly said in a statement. “The OBPA is already a state agency and runs an international airport, an international bridge and an international commerce park. They can take possession of the closed prison and turn it into an economic engine for the region.”
Mr. Skelly said he plans to personally reach out the Gov. Hochul and ask her to facilitate a speedy transfer of the state prison to the state’s bridge and port authority in Ogdensburg.
“I know she cares about this region,” he said. “I also know she understands how much we need jobs and economic growth up north.”
Mr. Skelly said when the public thinks about the Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, or any prison for that matter, they imagine one big gray building. However, to the contrary, he says the prison is actually a complex of multiple buildings. He said that configuration makes it a natural for a commerce park. “You’ve got separate loading and storage units, loading docks and bays, warehousing, that sort of infrastructure,” he said. “This is a natural commerce park that could be used by Canadian, U.S. and other international business. The warehouse and distribution opportunities alone are incredible.”
The Ogdensburg mayor said during a recent tour of the facility he was the first person to recommend to state officials that they should not turn off the heat but maintain the temperature at 50 degrees during winter to stop or limit damage from the elements. “They have got to keep the heat on, he said. “The Watertown prison is already suffering damage because the heat was turned off when it closed. We can’t let that happen here.”
Mr. Skelly said he plans to advocate strongly for the state to immediately turn the closed Ogdensburg prison over to the bridge and port authority. “The governor has the ability to do it, to turn the prison over to our bridge and port authority and the OBPA is amenable to the idea,” Mr. Skelly said. “If Gov. Hochul can make that happen our closed prison could turn into a major economic driver for St. Lawrence County and the north country region. “
The Ogdensburg mayor said he can envision a new commerce park, operated by the OBPA and practically next door to the state agency’s existing commerce park.
“Let’s create hundreds of new jobs in the north country,” he said. “I have great faith in the OBPA to expand their existing commerce park operations into the prison. All we need is for the state to hand it over to another state agency. The governor can help us do that.”