July 9, 2013

Eyesores, new business targeted


FORT COVINGTON — Town officials here believe ridding the community of dilapidated buildings and improving access to the Salmon River will attract business and investment.

And funding to carry out a number of steps in the town’s three-year action plan will come from Fort Covington’s $1.875 million share of profits from slot-machine use at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.

“We’ve developed two plans: one for economic development, and one for community development,” said Town Councilor John Cushman.

Franklin County, the Town of Bombay, St. Lawrence County and the towns of Massena and Brasher, as well as New York state, also share in the profits from the gambling devices the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe operates at the casino under an agreement with the state.

With its $3.75 million, Franklin County intends to pay itself back for investments it already made in tourism, highway improvements and economic development, including the $1.77 million it contributed to the development and construction of the Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas natural-gas pipeline. 

The Town of Bombay is using its money on long-term improvements in the community as well.

In addition to maintaining and improving its highways, Fort Covington’s plan includes conducting an inventory of downtown buildings and a detailed analysis of the structures, recent meeting minutes said.

There will also be a market analysis of rental property and home ownership in town.

Once those studies are complete, the town will move on with development of an improvement plan for the commercial buildings, along with a business-assistance program to help existing enterprises expand or others to start up.

“We’re still early in the planning stage,” Cushman said. “We’ve had some Town Hall meetings looking for input and suggestions from the public.”

The town’s long-term plan also includes façade, streetscape and building improvements to Water and Mill streets and a strategy to bring wider high-speed Internet service to town.

“We want to beautify Main Street, and we’re looking to do things that are practical and will have long-term benefit for the area.”

The Town Council plans to create a town website that will not only improve communication with its residents but can be used as a marketing tool for potential business investors and visitors.

“We’re moving cautiously,” Cushman said. “You want to make sure you can get the best bang for your dollar.

“We’re looking for great ideas that will benefit Fort Covington.”

Email Denise A.