PAUL SMITHS - The state closed Camp Gabriels last year, and has found no reuse for it, and now the Visitor Interpretive Center is slated for closure.
To address concerns over this, the town of Brighton, at its Feb. 11 town board meeting, created a Town Redevelopment Citizens' Committee to "explore possible opportunities for the future beneficial use of both facilities," according to a press release from town Supervisor John Quenell.
"These closures are a great concern to Brighton citizens," committee Chair Susan Mayer said in the release. "We could spend a lot of time complaining, but instead we are going to put all of our energy into finding new uses for Gabriels and the VIC that will benefit Brighton and the region at large."
Mayer said Thursday that the committee has six members. The first meeting will be from 4 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the town hall. A Paul Smith's College steering committee is meeting the same day, to discuss possibilities on saving the VIC.
Mayer, a retired Rainbow Lake resident, previously served as director of corporate communications for the state Environmental Facilities Corporation and spent 13 years in executive positions in private industry.
The VIC in Paul Smiths is located on land Paul Smith's College has leased to the state since 1987. The college has said it cannot afford to keep the facility open on its own. A number of other options are being discussed, such as partnerships with municipalities, North Country Community College or private groups.
The state also wants to close the VIC in Newcomb, for a combined annual savings of $500,000.
Mayer said she envisions saving the facility as a community effort.
"The VIC is one of the gems of the area," Mayer said, bringing "a lot of tourists that bring dollars into the community."
Gabriels, a minimum-security prison, closed in July 2009 as part of the state's 2009-10 budget. The state released an adaptive reuse plan that fall naming two users who might be interested in the camp, but neither has done anything with it. The camp is being decommissioned, and the report says the buildings might be knocked down at some point in the future and the site covered with topsoil.
The public can submit suggestions and ideas to Mayer at email@example.com. Mayer said the committee is "more of a working committee," but people are welcome to attend the meetings with ideas and suggestions.
"This is a citizens' committee, and we'd like to get as much input from the residents of Brighton as possible, and in the surrounding areas, too," Mayer said. "Although both (facilities) are located in the town, they affect the surrounding areas as well."
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or nbrown@adirondack