Abstract

This document proposes that the former Beacon Correctional Facility be redeveloped as a community-centric resource recovery, technology education, and advanced manufacturing center.

Motivation

This proposal is motivated by a desire to activate this valuable, long-dormant property to the direct benefit of Beacon residents.

Criticism of Existing Initiatives

Despite the fact that Empire State Development previously accepted a 2019 proposal from Urban Green Food [1] for the redevelopment of this property, no apparent progress has been made toward the realization of this plan, which focuses on conventional commercial and tourism-centric development, as opposed to the community-centric purposes that this document proposes. Complicating the realization of the Urban Green Food plan is the lack of convenient vehicular access to this property, with the SW approach of Matteawan Rd. as the only public ingress. Mayor Lee Kyriacou has proposed to address this through the construction of a new road [2]:

Under Kyriacou’s plan, a road would be constructed from Route 52, diverging near the long driveway that leads to the Chemprene manufacturing facility, winding around the perimeter of the prison’s land and connecting with Matteawan Road, creating another point of entry to Camp Beacon.

For the proposal to move forward, he hopes the state will provide its $6 million for the road.

“My focus is on doing the one thing that would change the potential for that site, which is road access,” Kyriacou said. “Anything that follows that would be a big plus.”

We contend that the existing location and degree of accessibility is adequate to accommodate a local, community-centric purpose, making it possible to instead apply that $6M, which the state has allocated to support redevelopment of the site, toward the material development of the proposal itself.

Update: At the 2022-11-14 City Council Meeting, the City Administrator estimated the cost of the road to be around $2.5M (source)

At a recent City Council meeting [3], a Beacon resident expressed disappointment over the lack of progress at the site and advocated that the City of Beacon take control of the Beacon Correctional Facility property:

Rather than stockpiling more stores for our out-of-town visitors, or waiting for yet another Request for Proposal from the state to be awarded to yet another outside developer stepping in to tell us what they will do, we need to do it ourselves together. We need to create space to grow food and make things, create alternative career paths for our kids and build some resilience into our economy that does not rely exclusively on out-of-town visitors.

Functions

This plan comprises a multitude of complementary functions that focus on uniting and empowering our community through local resource collection and recovery, information technology infrastructure, technology education, product design instruction, and advanced manufacturing capabilities.

Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe is an established movement that empowers communities with the ability to repair “objects of everyday life such as electrical and mechanical devices, computers, bicycles, clothing, and other items.” [4]

A Repair Cafe was started in Beacon in 2016 [5] and was active for several years, but is now dormant. Our plan will create a perpetual Repair Cafe that is able to leverage, and be leveraged by, the Electronics Recycling and Recovery Hub and Materials and Tool Depot.

Electronics Recycling and Recovery Hub

We will serve as a community hub for the disposal of electronics such as computer equipment, consumer electronics, and household appliances. These materials will follow one of three tracks:

  1. The object will be restored to a working condition in collaboration with the Repair Cafe and made available again to the community, either directly via the Materials and Tool Depot or through integration into one of our other functions
  2. The object will be salvaged for parts that will be cataloged and submitted into the Materials and Tool Depot inventory, with any remaining, unusable materials sent for waste collection
  3. The object will be sent for waste collection

Disassembly Workshops

The salvaging of electronics will provide an opportunity for residents, specifically young adults, to participate in the educational, hands-on process of disassembling electronic devices to discover the hidden inner workings and identify and recover useful components. Learning how objects are constructed through manual disassembly helps build physical dexterity, establishes an understanding of how things work, and provides insight into the designer’s mindset, all of which may serve to inspire future invention and creation.

Plastic Waste Collection Hub

Following the Precious Plastic [6] model, we will serve as a community hub for the drop-off of Polypropylene (PP #5) and Polyethylene (HDPE #2, LDPE #4) plastic waste, as well as consume appropriate Electronics Recycling and Recovery Hub outputs, which we will sort, grind, and store to serve as injection molding stock for the Interface Research Lab.

Materials and Tool Depot

We will accumulate and maintain a cataloged inventory of consumable and non-consumable material goods that will be made available to the community at low or no cost, to either own or borrow, depending on the nature of the object. Materials will be procured through direct purchase, donations, and Repair Cafe outputs.

Examples of objects in each of these classes:

The depot’s non-consumable inventory could serve as an extension of the Howland Library’s existing Library of Things [7].

Data Center

So much of our modern social and productive lives rely on information technology infrastructure into which we have little visibility, and over which we have no control. Many community sustainability plans overlook the need for locally-managed information technology systems. To address this, we will construct a small-scale local data center from low-cost commodity hardware and open-source technologies that will be available to the community:

Interface Research Lab

We will create a community technology education and digital fabrication facility which, in many ways, resembles a typical makerspace [8], whose primary function is to facilitate community access to specialized tools and materials, but will differ in its project-driven nature and primary motivation “to help prepare our community for the future of work and industry through education in the concepts and tools of modern technology and participation in an exploratory process of new, local industry creation.” [9]

More information about the Interface Research Lab can be found at: https://irl.beaconny.net/

Contact

Join the discussion in the Beacon Computing Club forum or email questions, comments, and thoughts to: [email protected]

People

derek_enos

Derek Enos

derekenos.com
[email protected]

Derek is a software engineer (currently @ Internet Archive), maker, and humanist who believes in the potential of technology as a force for good. He has built many hardware and software systems over the years, including elements of the Rock Band 2 & 3 video game controllers, and is excited to put his skills and experience to work for the Beacon community.

References

  1. https://esd.ny.gov/esd-media-center/press-releases/beacon-redevelopment-dutchess-county
  2. https://highlandscurrent.org/2022/08/05/progress-slow-at-camp-beacon/
  3. https://youtu.be/mfoBhCRUUaI?t=811
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repair_Caf%C3%A9
  5. http://www.repaircafehv.org/beacon
  6. https://preciousplastic.com/
  7. https://beaconlibraryofthings.weebly.com/
  8. https://www.makerspaces.com/what-is-a-makerspace/
  9. https://irl.beaconny.net/#motivation