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DEC acquires Cleveland Elementary School for future home of training academy

By Eric Reinhardt


Photo by Erin Zehr/ BJNN

CLEVELAND, N.Y. — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has purchased the former Cleveland Elementary School in Oswego County and plans to use it as a training site.

DEC purchased the facility from the Central Square School District at a cost of $199,000, the department said in a Wednesday news release.

It’ll be the future home of the basic training academy for DEC’s forest rangers and environmental conservation police officers (ECOs). Other department divisions and staff will also use it or DEC-led programs.

“This incredible property served as the epicenter for education for generations of central New York children and now will be reborn to educate and train the next generation of environmental protectors,” Basil Seggos, DEC commissioner, said in the release. “Its Central New York location matches perfectly with the on-water, wilderness, and mountainous terrain our divisions and programs require for their training, and we were thrilled to work with the village of Cleveland to revitalize this amazing facility.”

Located within view of Oneida Lake on Rt. 49, the building features 53,700 square feet of space and sits on 13 acres with multiple athletic fields. The school was built in 1952, updated with additions in 1992, and was closed in 2014 due to declining enrollment.

It includes 23 classrooms, a large gymnasium, and a commercial quality kitchen and cafeteria area.

The location is roughly 30 miles from the current DEC training facility in Pulaski. It’s a log-cabin motel building (formerly the Portly Angler Lodge) that had room-and-board facilities but lacked a gym and classroom space required for training, the DEC said.

“I am pleased that Commissioner Seggos and the DEC decided to keep the [training academy] in Oswego County,” New York State Assemblyman Will Barclay (R–Pulaski) said in the DEC release. “With the county’s great natural resources, the former Cleveland Elementary School in the village of Cleveland is an ideal location for the academy and a perfect use for the vacant building. In my experience, environmental conservation police officers and forest rangers are consummate professionals and that is in part due to the training they receive at the DEC’s academies. With the opening of the new site, I’m optimistic that this great tradition will continue.”

DEC is currently training 30 ECO and 14 forest-ranger recruits at the 22nd basic school in Pulaski, with graduation set for Dec. 6.

The academy continues for 28 weeks and covers environmental-conservation law, criminal procedure, vehicle and traffic laws, physical conditioning, firearms training, wildlife identification, emergency vehicle operations, search and rescue missions, land navigation, boating, and wildfire suppression.

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