Monday, January 14, 2008

Camp Gabriels Closing - Good and Bad News

The big news of the last week has been the announcement of the closing of Camp Gabriels, a State minimum security work camp. The State claims that the closing of Camp Gabriels, along with three other prison facilities in upstate NY, is due to a lower prison population and that it will save the State over $60 million in fiscal year 2009-2010.

Todays Plattsburgh Press Republican has an article briefly reviewing the history of Camp Gabriels which used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium run by the Sisters of Mercy. Find a bit more history here and here. Of more interest, is the amount of community work that has been done by Camp Gabriels "campmen". Anyone that has visited the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths can appreciate the work that went into the immaculately groomed trails, the boardwalks and the overlooks - all work done by Camp Gabriels campmen. Campmen have also been instrumental in the construction of the annual Winter Carnival ice palace in Saranac Lake, NY. The campmen are even commemorated in a book, Ice Palace by Deborah Blumenthal.

The closing of Camp Gabriels was an odd announcement to make in conjunction with Gov. Spitzer's promise to help revitalize the economy of upstate NY in his State of the State address. On the other hand, it's important to make the distinction between "upstate" NY and Northern NY or the "North Country". Putting money into the major population centers of upstate NY is probably wiser politics than spending money on small communities in the North country and I don't see that a billion dollars is going to go too far. We spend more than that in one week in Iraq.

An editorial in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise gets it partially right - this is a mixture of good news, crimewise, for the State and bad news, jobwise, for the Tri-Lakes area. What the editorial failed to do is remind people that the North Country gets better than its fair share of money from the State. The best jobs in the area are with the State - prisons, State police, Conservation Dept. as well as State-aid funded school jobs. We also have jobs funded in large part by the Federal government - think the Federal prison, Trudeau Institute and our hospital (State and Federal funds). Government taxes help fund our airport and provides grant-aid for many area infrastructure projects.

But the residents of the North Country have been complaining that we are being taxed out of house and home. Just listen to the people that call in to "talk of the town" complain about taxes. Yet, when government spending cuts are proposed, the whining begins. Yes, we want tax cuts but not at our expense. We all understand that the way to save large amounts of money is to cut back on the number of government workers supported by tax money, whether it be in our schools, hospitals, prisons or wherever. Unfortunately, we do not want those job cuts in our own backyard.

However, it appears the State of NY may be investing more money into the treatment of drug offenders rather than locking those offenders up in prison. Would it not be wise to look into possibly converting the camp into a drug treatment facility? We already have the expertise in the area - St. Josephs Rehabilitation Center as well as a history of treating the sick.


Anonymous said...

Its always easy to ignore someone else in their moment of loss. When that loss hits home it's a different story. No one at Camp Gabriels is LOSING a job. They are going to be relocated throughout the area. Therefore the area is NOT in fact losing those incomes. It's about time the State began downsizing government, with hopefully many more cuts to come. It's time to RIGHT SIZE the tax bill of the common people.

Anonymous said...

No1 @ Gabriels is losing a job hmmmm.
I know for a fact a civilian who has a very distinct position that is not needed anywhere in this hub. Yeah if the civilian wants to move say to Elmira yeah there maybe a position. But thats the state's way of saying no1 is losing their job. Now how long am I going to travel to Malone? because thats the closest I can HOPEFULLY get or will it be more realistic to up root sell my house and save $400 in gas a month. But were not losing incomes SURE! You let Gabriels go whats next Adirondack CF? Theres something there now to fight 4, why let it go and hope you can find something to use that area