By DAN HEATH
---- — POTSDAM — Five area water and sewer projects have been awarded as part of $2.5 million in infrastructure funds through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
Among others outside the North Country, money will go to projects in the Town of Plattsburgh, Ticonderoga, Saranac Lake, Malone and St. Armand. The announcement was made this week at the council’s meeting at SUNY Potsdam.
Pending submission of Consolidated Funding Applications, the money will provide the resources necessary to implement water and sewer infrastructure projects in the North Country that align with the council’s Strategic Plan.
The nine projects total $2.5 million that will leverage nearly $26 million in additional investment, according to a council press release.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President and Regional Council Co-chair Garry Douglas said the funding was awarded to the Regional Council last year, so this action represents approval, subject only to final processes with the relevant state agencies.
The funding includes $86,000 for pump-station improvements along Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh.
The pump station serves major commercial and industrial businesses in Clinton County, so the upgrade will allow future growth and support retention of existing jobs and job creation along the corridor, the release said.
Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said the money will be a great help in alleviating some infrastructure issues along the Route 3 corridor.
“That’s great news. We continue to look for funding for needed improvements to our aged and taxed infrastructure,” he said.
The Town of Ticonderoga was awarded $178,000 for the John Street Neighborhood Combined Sewage Overflow project.
It is intended to eliminate sewage pollution, creating a better quality of life in a neighborhood near downtown, the LaChute River and Lake Champlain and reduce tax rates by eliminating the need to treat stormwater with chemicals, the release said.
“I was absolutely delighted to hear that the town had been awarded the grant,” Town Supervisor Debra Malaney told the Press-Republican. “We have received $598,000 from the Office of Community Renewal, but the total project cost is close to $800,000.”
Ticonderoga has a combined sewer/stormwater removal system. And during periods of heavy rain, the John Street infrastructure is overburdened and prone to overflow.
The project will correct that problem and separate stormwater from sewer lines.
“The more stormwater we remove from the system is also water that doesn’t have to be treated at the wastewater treatment plant,” Ticonderoga’s Water and Sewer Clerk Sue Huestis explained.
“Water-main replacement is going to cost over $100,000. This money will help us to do a total restoration of the roadway.”
“It is much needed,” Malaney said. “Grant funding is the only way our small rural communities can progress. We are thankful to everybody involved for helping us secure this grant.”
A handful of businesses on Route 11 in the Town of Malone will pay about 20 percent less than expected for improvements in their sewer district with the $72,000 the town received.
Those properties were using an antiquated sewer-piping system, but it failed in July 2009, discharging raw sewage into wetlands in front of Kinney Drugs.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation ordered them to stop using the old line and find a safer solution for the wastewater.
The Town Council issued a low-interest 30-year serial bond for $357,000 to tap into the Village of Malone’s wastewater-disposal system, and the businesses — Cedar Commons Plaza, Aldi’s Plaza, Bailey Motor Company, NBT Bank, Auto Zone and Kinney Drugs — will pay it back through user fees.
Each was expected to pay about $1,280 a year.
But with the new grant, “there is less we’ll have to borrow, and the users won’t have to pay as much,” said Town Supervisor Howard Maneely.
Aldi’s had considered closing if a new system weren’t installed. The new infrastructure will also support new jobs at the pump station.
The Village of Saranac Lake will receive $190,000 for the LaPan Sewer Main replacement project.
Village water and sewer customers have seen rates increase by 39 percent over the last two years in order to pay debt service on a state-mandated $12 million water-system upgrade. The village is seeking numerous sources of funding to alleviate the burden to rate payers.
One local employer, Myriad RBM, would like to expand but can’t until after the project is completed.
“The $190,000 represents 20 percent of the nearly $1 million project, the maximum amount of funds they would allow us to receive,” Saranac Lake Village Manager John Sweeney said on Wednesday.
The village is moving ahead to replace sewer-line infrastructure in a large area of the village, from Glenwood, near St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, to Lake Street and out to Trudeau Institute on Route 3.
“The schools all come into this area,” Sweeney said. “We’re moving forward to try and get that project built by this fall.”
The Town of St. Armand will receive $422,000 for a new pump station and wastewater treatment plant improvements in the hamlet of Bloomingdale.
Town Supervisor Charles “Charlie” Whitson said this funding contributes to the overall $4.9 million sewer project upgrade slated to begin at the treatment plant off River Road in late 2014.
“This is a grant that we went after earlier this season,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
“We are reworking, updating and making big improvements in the wastewater treatment system, and the project includes modernization of the pumps, also updating the process that cleans the system, and replacing parts of the treatment plant lagoons.”
The project also garnered a $2 million grant from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation, Whitson said.
“Plus zero percent financing on any other monies the town has to spend on this project. We have been looking for additional grants up to the amount allowed by EFC. This $422,000 is definitely a big boost to the people in St. Armand. Every bit of grant money is fewer dollars that the user on the sewer district has to pay.”
The population of St. Armand is about 1,200, though only about 300 residents are in the sewer district. DEC officials issued a consent order in 2009 requiring the updates.
Lack of wastewater infrastructure has prevented existing businesses from expanding and new business from developing, the release said.
As St. Armand is primarily a bedroom community, the housing stock and business potential cannot diversify due to the lack of up-to-date municipal wastewater.
Douglas said the council continues to move strongly forward across the board. That includes awarding funds for important water projects around the North Country and setting the groundwork for successful implementation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Opportunity Agenda.
The council is also providing local input on economic-development matters, such as the process to determine use classifications for the former Finch Pruyn land in the Adirondack Park and the importance of new forms of state support for Fort Drum.
“The summer will now center around a series of updates and forums in each of the seven counties, the continued implementation of all of our approved projects and encouraging the best possible applications in the current Consolidated Funding Application funding round, as plenty of excellent applications will help secure maximum funding for the region later this year,” Douglas said in the release.
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