Warwick to purchase former prison

WARWICK — The Town of Warwick, its local development corporation and the state have reached a tentative agreement to purchase the former Mid Orange Correction Facility on Kings Highway between Warwick and Chester, Supervisor Michael Sweeton announced Friday.
“Knowing the decision was final, instead of wringing our hands about potential job losses when the announcement was made in the summer of 2011 to close the prison, we immediately recognized the situation as a phenomenal opportunity for Warwick. We formed a bi-partisan citizens’ advisory committee which, in less than three months came up with a 50 page plan of action which the Town Board adopted in early 2012,” Sweeton said in a press release announcing the agreement.
“The plan called for the town to purchase the entire 740 acre site from the state and cited the possibility of development of the site for economic purposes as well as utilizing some significant portion of the property for public recreation and aquifer protection for Warwick’s water supply,” Sweeton added.
The town formed its development corporation, which will oversee the economic development of the approximately 200 acres that lends itself to future creation of business opportunities.
Construction and permanent jobs

“With the help of the State Economic Development Agency and the Orange County Partnership, we have already developed contacts with some major companies who may want to locate on the site,” Sweeton said. “This could produce hundreds of jobs in construction and for permanent jobs in the long term.
“This is important for Warwick,” Sweeton added. “Our physical location, terrain and relative isolation from major transportation infrastructure has prevented us from ever furnishing significant parcels for economic development. This changes everything. And the portion of the site that lends itself to economic development is isolated from any residential uses, thereby providing a clear path toward development without opposition from nearby residents.
“In addition to utilizing approximately 150 acres on which there are already useable buildings and upland sites for construction of new commercial facilities, there are hundreds of acres of wetlands that sit atop our huge aquifer so this will provide further protection of Warwick’s water supply for hundreds of years to come. And it will provide any user of the site with ample water and sewer capacity for almost any type of conceivable development,” Sweeton said. “We will also acquire beach and boating sites on Wickham Lake, which the town will now own in its entirety, as well as a community center building and recreation fields.”
Closing on the purchase is expected to take place within 60 days.
“We are very excited about what this means for Warwick’s future,” Sweeton said. “It was a huge undertaking requiring thousands of hours of work at our local and also the State level and I am grateful to all who played a part in bringing this to fruition.”