A buyer for Camp Gabriels prison?

Camp Gabriels seen from the air.  (Photo: NYS)

Camp Gabriels seen from the air. (Photo: NYS)

The Albany Times Union is reporting today that state officials believe they have a buyer for the former Camp Gabriels correctional facility north of Saranac Lake.

“[NY] offficials earlier on Monday opened the seven bids they got and topping the list was Mohammed Ibrahim from Brooklyn,” the Times-Union reported, “whose $210,777 bid was substantially more than the second-highest offer of $166,000.”

According to the newspaper, there’s no word yet on what Ibrahim plans to do with the facility, which was originally valued by New York state at roughly $1,000,000.

The 9o-acre campus was originally developed in the late 1800s as a tuberculosis sanatorium, and was later converted into a minimum security work-camp style prison in the mid-1980s.

This sale comes in the wake of the sale of another North Country prison back in July – Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility went to a Canadian buyer for roughly $140,000.

Two more North Country prisons, near Glens Falls and in Chateaugay, are slated to close in 2014 as state inmate populations continue to decline.  Local officials have promised to try to block those closures.


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19 Comments on “A buyer for Camp Gabriels prison?”

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  1. Paul says:

    Is this the British telecom mogul or the renegade Taliban leader? Those were the two hits I got. The latter is dead so I doubt it is him. Although this place would make the perfect terrorist training camp.

  2. Paul says:

    Okay, you lost me. There is a big debate going on over at the Almanack regarding the amendment to swap 200 acres of state owned land for some other private land (1500 acres) so a mining company can expand. Some have argued that it sets a very bad precedent that a private entity could benefit from a transaction like that even though it increases the size of the Forest Preserve. Now here the state is outright selling 90 acres of land that it owns within the Adirondack Park with no included swap. What gives? If precedent is an issue there it is over the top here?

  3. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Probably not the 13th Mughal emperor either. Just because I like to start unfounded rumors, do you think he may set up an Islamic summer camp complete with monkey bars and everything?

  4. Walker says:

    That’s a good point, Paul. I can only assume that “Administrative Use” lands are not part of the Forest Preserve. Article 14 of the NYS Constitution reads, in part “the lands of the state now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve, as now fixed by law…shall not be leased, sold or exchanged…”

    For an interesting take on this, read Dave Gibson’s State is not free to quickly sell or lease Camp Gabriels.

  5. Two Cents says:

    monkey bars ? my lord, don’t tell me we’re dealing with drunken monkeys now….

  6. newt says:

    I think he means monkey bars as in the often-shown video of a bunch of young men wearing face-covering black baklavas and carrying Kalashnikov s swinging on said monkey bars and then crawling under obstacles, then pretending to shoot infidels, and occasionally including a tallish bearded fellow in a turban smiling approvingly in the background.

    This could get complicated.

  7. Mervel says:

    Certainly there is much more to it than I understand. But 90 acres within the Park for $210,000 seems like a very good deal?

    I wonder if there is millions of dollars of remediation needed to get rid of the facility and clean it up for other types of development?

  8. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    My bet is they’ll tear everything down and sell every piece of metal for scrap and assume the profit will be far more than the purchase price they’ll ultimately pay. Toss in a few bucks from selling off parcels of land for residential and/or commercial development and perhaps there’s a tidy profit to be made. Unless of course the purchase agreement prevents this type of situation.

  9. Paul says:

    All the kids at the summer camp “Blackfly” can wrap themselves in the asbestos blankets they find wrapped around the old pipes!

    At 210 they were just dumping this property. Nobody wanted it. They had 7 bidders. Most of them were probably the minimum ask which I think was 90K.

  10. Marlo Stanfield says:

    There’s a provision of state law that allows sale of detached parcels of Forest Preserve land under 100 acres (Gabriel’s is 90):


    I don’t think Gabriel’s adjoins any other forest preserve parcels. But I’m not sure if that law itself is constitutional. The state constitution’s language seems pretty all encompassing. And the DEC seems to define prisons as part of the forest preserve:


    The law aside, Gabriel’s is not forest. It’s been in use for over 100 years, I think the first sanitarium predates the forever wild clause. From a practical viewpoint, it would be silly to treat it like wild lands that should be preserved when it’s covered in buildings already. But legally, the people who say the state shouldn’t sell it might be right.

    That price ($210,000) is a lot, lot lower than before — I think they were looking for more like $900,000 a few years ago. They probably took such a low bid since they’ve been trying to sell it for so long and it’s better than nothing. And yes, Mervel, the buildings are in bad shape. A lot of them, it would be more worth it to tear them down than to renovate them or do anything with them:


  11. Walker says:

    You’re right, Marlo, the law looks unconstitutional on its face. What’s more, the Gabriels sale has two problems fitting into the “detached parcels” law. First, it appears on the 2013 National Geographic trails map to be contiguous with forest preserve land along its entire northern and western borders. But more importantly, “detached Forest Preserve parcels are classified as Forest Preserve but located outside the Catskill and Adirondack Park boundaries.” That decidedly does not describe Camp Gabriels.

    Of course there could be other laws that apply. It will be interesting to see if anyone challenges the sale.

  12. Dave Gibson says:

    Marlo, fyi sale or change in use of Forest Preserve land under 100 acres only applies outside of the legal boundaries of the Adirondack Park (Forest Preserve exists outside of the Blue Line, say in Saratoga County and others). This provision was approved as a constitutional amendment of Article 14, the Forever wild clause. So…there is nothing constitutionally appropriate about what happened at Camp Gabriels. What started as a Sisters of Mercy sanitarium for tuberculosis c. 1895 became part of Paul Smiths College c. 1965, and then the college sold to NYS as a prison c. 1982..that is the source of the issue. NYS should never have bought the land in 1982 for a prison since “the lands of the state now owned or hereafter acquired shall be forever kept as wild forest lands” (Article 14). But NYS did buy it, developed it as a prison, and nobody challenged it in court. In our opinion, in 2011 NYS, instead of putting Camp Gabriels out to bid, should have placed the future of the Camp to the voters as a constitutional question – shall Camp Gabriels be sold to a private party, or not? During the time needed for the legislature to vote on this matter, more public discussion about appropriate future uses of Camp Gabriels could have occurred, and both the legislature and the public would be a lot more informed, and creative uses could have been explored. Dave Gibson, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

  13. Mervel says:

    It will be interesting to see what anyone can do with the property? I did not realize it was that old, there is no telling what kind of an environmental mess that place is, how many old oil tanks are buried, how much gas and oil was spilled over the years and of course the buildings themselves full of toxic materials.

    Then again there are people who specialize in knowing what to do with all of that and it is in a prime spot close to Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

  14. Paul says:

    “Then again there are people who specialize in knowing what to do with all of that and it is in a prime spot close to Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.”

    Not so sure I agree with this. It is pretty far out of the way. There is lots of land available for development that is closer to both and not tucked back in the woods like this. It will be interesting to see what is in store for the place.

    “it would be silly to treat it like wild lands that should be preserved when it’s covered in buildings already.”

    Why not? The state has done this many times over the years. There are many parts of the Adirondack Forest preserve that were once covered with roads and rails and had many buildings and other structures.

    Read “Trails with Tales” for some good examples:


    ” Visit abandoned iron mines and the ruins of tanneries, famous Adirondack great camps and old resorts, lost villages,…..

  15. Mervel says:

    I agree Paul, but of the other land available, is it 90 acres for 210K?

    To me the land is certainly worth the price, the big mystery would be the cost of cleaning the place up and making it usable. But yeah as you said if you simply got rid of the majority of the structures and let it go back to forest, I think that could work.

  16. Paul says:

    Dave, If those actions back in the 60s, where the state bought land from a private entity and then ignored article 14 and didn’t place the land into the Forest Preserve did not set a terrible precedent than how on earth could this proposition to swap land with a private company set one?

    I don’t doubt that it is perhaps a bad idea, but the precedent setting argument doesn’t seem to hold any water.

    History seems to indicate otherwise.

  17. Paul says:

    Mervel, yes it was a “steal” based on assessment even. But with any remediation and other permitting issues (APA and maybe the EPA) the real costs come after the sale. There is also the legal threat posed by what we are discussing here. I think that most developers wouldn’t touch this with a 10 foot pole.

  18. Mervel says:

    Paul, true, ergo the price.

  19. dave says:

    Precedent isn’t quite that black and white.

    There is no statute of limitations on it. You can not say, “Well, it hasn’t happened again in the last X amount of years, so clearly no precedent was set”. Especially when the scenario being considered is a relatively rare event.

    And you also can not make assumptions between different events. If situation A didn’t seem to produce precedent, that in no way means that situation B will also not.

    That is why it can be tricky to make decisions with it in mind… but it is still important to consider none-the-less.

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