By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — BOMBAY — The Town of Bombay is spending its casino-compact money on the fire department, road repairs and recreation upgrades.
It will also use some of the $1.875 million to pay for a Highway Department laborer for the summer, improvements to the security system at the Town Office and Town Court and an appraisal of land the ownership of which has been in dispute for more than 30 years, according to minutes from a recent meeting.
The Bombay Fire Corp. will get $46,500, which is about 5 percent of the town’s share of funding obtained through an agreement the state has with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which operates the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.
The agreement allows the tribe to operate slot machines at the casino in exchange for splitting 25 percent of the profits with the state, Franklin County and the towns of Bombay and Fort Covington, as well as St. Lawrence County and its towns of Brasher and Massena.
The reasoning is that the counties and towns are most impacted by the casino operation, even though the gambling outfit lies solely in Franklin County.
$30 MILLION STILL OWED
No casino profits had been awarded since late 2010, when the Mohawks claimed the state broke the tribe’s eight-county gaming exclusivity agreement when it allowed slot machines at the Ganienkeh Mohawk territory near Altona.
Shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he wanted to have non-Indian casinos built in different regions of the state, an agreement between the Tribal Council and the state was reached that reinforced the Mohawks exclusivity in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Warren and Hamilton counties and immediately released $30 million in suspended slot-machine funds.
Another $30 million is still owed to the compact partners.
Each county was awarded $3.75 million, and half of that was shared among the impacted towns.
In its June meeting, the Bombay Town Council awarded funding to the fire company with the stipulation that the town retains control over the funds and that vouchers be filed and board permission obtained for purchases greater than $200.
“The money helped out with the fire department, getting them the equipment they need,” said Town Councilor Christopher Jock.
About $12,000 in compact funds was spent on a camera system at the municipal building and justice court, and a $5,000 security and fire-detection system will be installed at the Town Garage.
In a related issue, the town will use compact funds to hire an outside appraiser to determine the value of the property in dispute as part of a pending land-claims lawsuit filed by the Mohawks 32 years ago, seeking a return of certain parcels they say were carved from their reservation illegally.
The decision came following a request from County Treasurer Bryan Varin to determine a value on that land since the state, Mohawks and counties may be getting closer to resolving the issue.
Bombay will spend the rest of its 2013 compact money, about 50 percent, furthering a three-year plan for highway maintenance and improvements that will include equipment upgrades and sidewalk installation.
Another 30 percent will be dedicated to negotiating to tap into the Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas natural-gas pipeline that is being built to extend from St. Lawrence County into Franklin County at the Town of Moira.
The town is also looking to create a farmers-market site at the Rec Park, featuring goods from the local Amish population and other interested vendors.
“We’re hoping to put up a pavilion,” said Jock. In addition to serving as a farmer’s-market site, the pavilion could also be used for special events.
Bombay will also apply for a block grant for housing rehabilitation.
Unsafe playground equipment will be removed and updated, and an outdoor wooden ship will be purchased from Adirondack Storage Barns, using casino funds.
Bombay will also build at least a 10-foot backstop fence about 200 feet long between the playground and the town’s ball field, but the Town Council wants to seek bids for the work.
Another project is a new walkway along the river, near the ball field.
The use of the rest of the funds is still under consideration, Jock said.
Regarding the wait for the release of the funds, he said, “We were concerned, but you just gotta keep going. That’s all you can do.”
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org