This is the latest update on the status of the former Beacon women’s correctional facility, located just beyond our city’s high school grounds. On Wednesday, December 17th, a number of interested parties toured the site and all the buildings.
For almost a year, a group of citizens affiliated with various community organizations, currently known as the Beacon Prison Reclamation Project, has been looking for ways to bring this 39-acre campus into the best productive use for the citizens of Beacon. The main areas of focus have been farming and light industry, and education and training, all with an emphasis on decent jobs. And as Governor Cuomo said when he formed the 10 regional economic development councils in 2011, the three most important things about local economic development were jobs, jobs, and jobs.
During much of the past year, those working on the project were seeking assistance, some organization or benefactor that the various proposed projects could operate under cohesively. Adding to the difficulty of finding a suitable partner was the fact that nobody knew when exactly the State would issue it’s request for proposal (RFP) to develop the site. The Purchase or Long-Term Lease and Adaptive Re-Use of The Beacon Correctional Facility RFP happened in mid-November.
Read previous Wigwam coverage of the Beacon prison site:
At seemingly the last minute, a viable partner appeared, in the form of The Doe Fund. This New York City-based organization is in the process of a major expansion, and is interested in partnering with the Beacon Prison Reclamation Project (BPRP) in some way.
The Doe fund sent its top three executive staff to the site visit: George T. McDonald and Harriet Karr-McDonald, who serve as president and executive vice president and are also co-founders, and John McDonald, chief operating officer. Also present was Jason Finder, who is coordinating the Doe Fund involvement in the Beacon site. Also part of TDF planning team was an architect with a green design firm. The Doe Fund will be looking at creating a food hub that will generate jobs consistent with its mission. The Fund has hired two food consultants to work on this project, including Beacon Reclamation steering committee member Ben Giardullo, who also represents the interests of Common Ground Farm in the project. The Doe Fund will be submitting a proposal. The RFP submission deadline is Thursday, January 15, 2015. Wigwam will report further developments as they occur.
Here is a basic outline of potential needs from some of the community groups that was submitted to The Doe Fund by the BPRP just prior to the site visit:
- Use of the prison kitchen
- 2,000 square feet of work space
- small office
- potentially a storefront to sell goods.
- use of land to raise animals for fiber and meat.
- 1/4 acre of land for a garden to produce natural dyes.
- 2,000 square feet for an office and classroom
- use of the kitchen
- greenhouse infrastructure and shed
- as much viable farmland as possible. This would include asking for an additional 10-15 acres from open prison lot.
- walk-in cooler
- 2-4 classrooms
- 2-4 offices
- use of the kitchen
- 1/4 acre for educational garden
- walk in cooler and/or use of walk-in cooler space
- equipment storage space/shed
- Composting facility
- Offices for other organizations
- Food processing facility
Earlier Wigwam coverage of the Beacon prison site: