The Grasse River is pictured from a window of The Mercantile on Main Street in the village of Massena. Village officials have decided not to spend $25,000 as the local share for a grant that would the study the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Massena village trustees have said no to authorizing an agreement with Barton & Loguidice for a waterfront revitalization study.

The proposed resolution had been tabled twice during previous board meetings, but Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire suggested it was time to take action on it.

He said the concerns were that they were looking at a potential 15 to 20% decline in sales tax and a potential increase in the cost of health care.

“Do we have the financial flexibility right now to spend money?” Mr. LeBire said.

Not having the financial resources to fund the study, he said he wasn’t inclined to move forward.

The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program had been separated into two components — planning and construction. The amount budgeted for planning was $50,000, which would have been a $25,000 cost for the village.

Barton & Loguidice’s proposal for the planning component was $79,900, which would have required a budget modification to move funds from the construction to planning component.

The total cost of the project was $585,775. A Department of State grant would cover $292,887.50, while the village’s contribution would also be $292,887.50 in the form of cash payments and in-kind services.

Village officials agreed in December to seek a qualified consultant who could help develop the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. During that meeting, Business Development Corporation Executive Director James Murphy said they wanted to develop a plan that identified appropriate land and water uses, projects and public enhancements along the Grasse River waterfronts in the village.

The plan would guide development, explore opportunities for connections between downtown and the waterfront, help restore the ecological health of the Grasse River, encourage use of waterways as recreational and economic development assets, and serve as an economic road map to attracting businesses, residents and investment.

A previous plan done by the town and village of Massena and town of Louisville was never adopted after the village Board of Trustees and Massena Town Council withdrew from the plan in September 2010. Trustees withdrew because the centerpiece of the plan, a hydroelectric facility over the Grasse River, was taken off the table. The Massena Electric Department pulled the plug on the project, citing problems dealing with state legislators.

The Town Council withdrew for similar reasons, with former Supervisor Joseph D. Gray noting he didn’t see the point in finishing the process without the dam.

A failed weir in the mid-1980s resulted in dramatically lower water levels in the Grasse River. The dam would have restored water levels there, as well as upriver in the town of Louisville, creating opportunities for waterfront redevelopment.

Mr. LeBire recalled the Aluminum Trail project that had been on the table since 2006 when the village secured a federal grant through the state Department of Transportation to finance the project. It had been scaled back twice due to funding concerns and logistical issues related to land acquisition.

The original plan called for extending a trail from the footbridge to the water intake plant on Route 131, but it was scaled back after running into logistical problems. The initial project was revised and called for the refurbishment of the footbridge as well as new sidewalks and crosswalks along North Main Street and Stoughton and Liberty avenues. The first revision called for the trail to run from the footbridge off East Orvis Street to North Main Street and Owl Avenue.

Funding issues later led the Village Board to trim the project to simply restoring the aluminum footbridge crossing the Grasse River and its approaches.

In that case, Mr. LeBire said, it was “spend this much or pay this much back, and I’m worried we’d fall into that trap.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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