MALONE — Concerns about broadband gaps, cell-tower restrictions and job retention dominated discussions in Malone Wednesday following a review of Cuomo administration accomplishments and goals.
About 65 people turned out to hear New York Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Deirdre “Dede” Scozzafava cover highlights of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s last three years in office, as well as an overview of his State of the State address and hints about his 2014 state budget, which will be released next Tuesday.
She was joined by June O’Neill, North Country representative for the State Department of Labor; Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury); and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), who also praised the governor’s efforts to promote and reinvigorate the region’s economy.
The question-and-answer period afterward touched on a variety of issues, including retaining jobs at Alcoa in Massena, saving Chateaugay Correctional Facility from planned closure in July and easing asbestos-related regulations so municipalities can rid themselves of buildings that blight the landscape.
111 PRISON JOBS
Scozzafava said the state has done what it can to keep the Alcoa aluminum-manufacturing plant and its 960 jobs in New York by offering a host of incentives. But it’s a global operation with a board of directors that makes its business decisions, she pointed out.
She said she understands the importance of keeping the 111 jobs being threatened at the Chateaugay prison. But, at the same time, if the region is going to thrive, it has to diversify its business base and branch into other industry besides corrections, Scozzafava said.
As for blight, the deputy director said the state’s Local Government Office may be able to help by working through local code-enforcement officers, not only to clean up existing sites but prevent them in the future.
School officials told Scozzafava they want special-education funding and other aid restored and suggested the governor use a proposed $20,000 bonus for highest-performing individual teachers for staff development and training so more educators and students could benefit from the state’s investment.
TOURISM, CELL TOWERS
Scozzafava said Cuomo is already on record in support of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake.
She called him the state’s best tourism promoter, since he has been fishing, snowmobiling and whitewater rafting to draw attention to all the recreation opportunities New York has to offer.
All agreed that tourism, cellular-communication towers and broadband-service expansion are linked, since a majority of visitors want access to Internet and phone services while vacationing.
Scozzafava and Little both said the Adirondack Park Agency is more flexible in its regulations concerning construction of communications towers, but there is more work to be done so towns like Duane can have access after years of APA refusals.
The deputy director said the governor’s budget message next week will include information on possible funding restoration for senior-citizen programs and school-aid figures, but she did not want to disclose details.
She said request for proposals will be accepted as of March 14 for casino operations throughout the state. Bids are due on June 14, and the site selections will be made in the fall.
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