MASSENA — The Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce announced in April that it would be temporarily closing its doors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as decreased funding.

But that temporary may be longer than anticipated.

Massena Town Council member Susan Bellor, who serves as the liaison to the chamber, read a letter from chamber board President Eowyn Hewey to other council members on Wednesday, giving an update on the chamber’s status.

“The chamber does not have the means to bring back employees. Both the executive director (Nathan Lashomb) and office manager (Daykota Snyder) remain on layoff for the foreseeable future. The chamber is considering the county chamber consolidation plan as the best viable option for the future,” Ms. Hewey said in her letter.

The chamber is also working on a communication strategy to its members, she said.

“They do not see how they can operate the locks (gift shop this summer). The last few years, they have asked for volunteers to cut the cost of staffing and there was no consistency in getting anyone,” Ms. Hewey said.

The chamber has also announced that, “after much deliberation and consideration,” it was cancelling its summer Concerts in the Park series at Springs Park. They are reviewing their options for a modified fall or early spring 2021 schedule “to make up for the loss of community engagement.”

When the chamber office closed in April, officials cited the mandate from Gov. Andrew J. Cuomo as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as decreased funding as the reasons for the closure. Many local business had also shut their doors under the mandate, and half of the membership had unpaid dues.

The closure came at a time when town and village officials had announced that they were drastically reducing the chamber’s funding, which was critical for continued operations. In presenting his 2020-21 budget, Mayor Timmy J. Currier said he was reducing chamber funding from $21,500 to $5,000, and Business Development Corporation funding from $45,000 to $5,000.

Donations can still be made to the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce by sending a check to their 16 Church St. offices.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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