September 27, 2012

Redistricting hearing draws no response


---- — PLATTSBURGH — If the response at Tuesday night's public hearing on the plan by City of Plattsburgh Redistricting Committee members is any indication, they must have done a good job, as no one complained.

No one spoke in praise, either.

"I am a little surprised no one had anything to say," Committee Chairman Peter Ensel said.

"I don't know if it is because they think we did such a good job or because there is just a lack of interest. I hope it's the former and not the latter."

Only one person from the public showed up, and the hearing was closed after four minutes of silence.

The committee was hoping to hear comments about the plan to re-draw the city's six wards. By law, the city must redistrict its voting wards based on figures from the 10-year U.S. Census, which occurred in 2010.

The census showed the city had 19,989 people, putting the average for each ward at 3,332. The committee was allowed to deviate from the average by 5 percent below and above. The range was between 3,165 and 3,498 people.

Wards 2 and 3 presented the biggest challenges, as Ward 2 had 4,495 people and Ward 3 had just 2,904. Ward 2 experienced significant growth in recent years as the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base property was developed and included in that area.

To even out the wards, the committee moved two SUNY Plattsburgh dormitories on Rugar Street from Ward 2 into Ward 3.

The committee is allowed to make changes to the plan based on public-hearing comments and then submit its final product to the Common Council. The councilors can approve the plan as is or make suggestions and send it back to the committee.

Councilor James Calnon (Ward 4), who served as liaison to the committee, said the plan is not controversial and seems acceptable.

"I assume we will probably approve it, if not in its exact form, something very close to it," he said.

Mayor Donald Kasprzak, who along with Calnon and Councilor Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6) attended the public hearing, said he was a little surprised no one showed up.

"But I think the public understands that the committee did a good job and came up with a fair plan," he said.

Once approved, the plan will take effect for the 2013 election.

"It's important for people to know that this has nothing to do with the election we have coming up in November," Calnon said. "It's for next year."

The mayor's post and the six council seats are all up for election in 2013.

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