Camp Gabriels to be a camp for real

A plan to convert the former Camp Gabriels prison into a summer camp and year-round educational retreat will be presented to the public for the first time next week.

An informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 1 at the Paul Smith’s College VIC, according to town of Brighton Supervisor Peter Shrope.

“The new owner, the new owner’s legal counsel and representatives from the Adirondack Park Agency will present plans for turning the former Camp Gabriels minimum-security prison into a privately-run residential summer camp,” Shrope said in an email. “The public and media are invited and encouraged to attend to learn about the plans for transforming this historic site for contemporary usage.”

Adam Fine and Eliezer Hersh are in the process of purchasing Camp Gabriels, which the state closed in 2009. Fine, who lives in Rockland County, submitted the second-highest bid, $166,000, for the 91-acre property when it was auctioned in October. The highest bidder wasn’t able to complete the sale.

The state comptroller’s office approved the sale of the property to Fine last week, state Office of General Services spokesman Joe Brill said in an email.

“We are working with the purchaser to set a closing date,” he said.

Hersh said in a phone message left with the Enterprise Monday that details of the project will be outlined at the April 1 meeting.

“I will show the vision of what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Fine and Hersh filed a permit application in January with the state Adirondack Park Agency. The Enterprise obtained a copy of the application, and other documents the prospective owners submitted to the agency, last week through a Freedom of Information Law request.

It says Fine and Hersh “propose to use the Camp Gabriels property as a year-round educational facility including a summer camp/school and a school and/or educational retreat the rest of the year.”

A new or upgraded kitchen facility on the property will provide food service for the group camp. Many of the existing buildings will be used as they were used for the correctional facility, like the garage and sewage treatment plant. Other existing buildings will be used as classrooms, a library, activity rooms, office space, storage facilities, housing units, a gym, a medical facility and a dining hall. A two-to-three-acre area near the former pheasant farm will be cleared for an outdoor sports complex with athletic fields. The plan also calls for an in-ground outdoor swimming pool with a removable dome.

“The number of people using the property will be based on the maximum capability of the camp grounds,” the application reads. “This includes the maximum number of people the buildings allow for and the capacity of the water and sewage system.”

In a January letter to the APA, attorney Michael Hill said his clients planned to have the property’s electrical, water supply and wastewater treatment systems inspected while the agency is reviewing the application. The systems were all shut down when the prison closed. Hill also said his clients planned to do some initial repair work – patching leaking roofs, replacing broken windows – to make the buildings weather-tight, along with some cleaning and minor interior renovations.

In early February, the agency asked the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to review the application, noting that there are buildings on the property which are more than 50 years old. The property was home to a sanitarium at which the Sisters of Mercy treated tuberculosis patients from the 1890s until the 1950s.

Town officials have said the new owners want to have a first camp session on the property this summer.