Town takes step on water plan

The town of Potsdam has approved a map/plan/report for the next step in researching the development of a proposed water district along Route 56 and Sissonville Road. Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM — Town Board members Tuesday night passed a resolution authorizing the creation of a map/plan/report for the long proposed water and sewer district along Route 56 north corridor.

“Yes we have been working on this for many years and the goal, all along, was to see if we could get this project as affordable as possible, knowing we have a mixture that is roughly equal in the number of residents and the number of commercial properties in this district,” Kevin P. Feuka, owner and project manager for architectural, engineering and planning firm C2AE, Canton, told Town Board members. “What I want to report tonight is I believe we are at the point that we should make the hard decision whether we want to advance this or not.”

As part of the final map, plan and report process, Mr. Feuka’s firm would prepare a final user list based on the current St. Lawrence County real Property and Town data, and prepare the plan for the Route 56 water and sewer districts formation process. The firm would also mail to proposed district property owners notification of the required public hearing date, time and location, as well as attend the hearing and present project information.

“It is not your final decision whether this goes or not,” Mr. Feuka said.

But he said this was a milestone because Rural Development has offered the town a roughly 53 percent grant for what is a $10.3 million project.

“That was very attractive, very good offer, but this is a small district and it was understood that wasn’t going to be enough to make it palatable for all involved,” Mr. Feuka said.

A grant through the Empire State Development was turned down, Mr. Feuka said, but they offered incentives to LC Drives in their proposed factory at Route 56 and Sissonville Road, inside the potential water and sewer district.

Mr. Feuka said he then reached out to the U.S. Economic Development Agency, which was “very supportive of giving money in St. Lawrence County for manufacturing.”

“We’ve been working with them for several months. You should be eligible for $3 million in grants and it could be distributed across the two projects,” he said. “You are an impoverished county, you do have a high unemployment, not a lot of money has been given to St. Lawrence County before, so when they are obligated to spread the wealth, they’re incentivized to work to try to make this go through. It is not final . . . until it goes through their board and that process is decided.”

Supervisor Ann Carvill said she has heard that a number of businesses in that corridor were interested in a water sewer district “because the notion of getting good water and a sewer system is extremely appealing to them,” and, in a letter to the town, officials from Blevins Motors welcomed the potential district.

“They write, ‘We would welcome the opportunity to receive town water at our place of business. Our current water is corrosive and therefore destructive to our pipes and our water systems. Having town water would be beneficial to our businesses and the community and we would be able to wash more vehicles, sell more vehicles and eventually hire more employees,’” she read. “So it sounds like business-wise it would be very attractive.“

If LC Drives decides to stay in Potsdam and follows through with its timeline for the Sissonville Road and Route 56 location, it would be ready to occupy its building in December 2021 and that is when it would need the connections for the water and the sewer, according to Mr. Feuka.

On the current timeline the town is on, the district would lake longer to finalize than 2021, but enough work could be be done on the project to service LC Drives at that time, Mr. Feuka said.

“I will tell you, I believe I’ve met my original expressed goal to the town board five years ago that it would be as affordable as possible. It’s well below the New York State Comptroller’s threshold for what they deemed affordable for a town water and sewer district,” he said. “You guys are not average, by 2010 median household income, your poverty. You need this and you have somebody who wants to build in here and help create 165 extra jobs. So what I’m asking you, the step to take, is worth the risk to show LC Drives you are serious.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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