CSS7115.jpg

Members of the Keeseville Village Board meet in their new location at 58 Liberty St., Keeseville. Village Offices, which used to be located at the Civic Center, are all settled in the new site, which is also home to a New York State Police substation.

With the Keeseville Civic Center officially closed, the Village Offices have found their new permanent home at 58 Liberty St.

Nearly every organization that was located in the Civic Center has relocated somewhere in Keeseville.

CONTROVERSIAL DECISION

During a public forum last April, people voiced concern over the closure, as many in the community had sentimental attachments to the building.

Debate became heated over the issue, but the Village Board decided upkeep for the Civic Center was just too expensive.

Problems such as asbestos, mold and structural damage made salvaging the building too costly for taxpayers, Mayor Meegan Rock said.

TIME TO MOVE ON

"I think that the people that didn't want (the closure) need to move forward," Trustee Mary King said recently.

As a budget item, cutting spending on the Civic Center allowed the village to give its residents a financial break, reducing the tax levy by 6.6 percent.

"I'm hoping that it becomes less of a tax burden for the people," King said of the old building.

NEW SITES

The Civic Center was home to various organizations, and one point of concern was where to relocate those entities.

"I think the Civic Center allowed many, many organizations to do their business," King said. "It was truly a civic center."

While State Police still shares a building with the Village Offices, the Senior Center, Girl Scouts and Northern New York American-Canadian Genealogical Society have been able to find new homes elsewhere.

The Anderson Falls Heritage Society, however, is continuing to search for a location. The group explores the history of the area, starting with a time when the village was known as Anderson Falls, not Keeseville.

For now, the Village Board is allowing the society to store its belongings in the Civic Center.

GOOD SITE

"I think it's the best move we ever made," said Trustee Robin Bezio about the switch to Liberty Street.

Bezio said that for more than three decades the village was unable to break even maintaining the Civic Center, of which only about 10 percent was used.

The current building is more than sufficient, he said, and State Police have told him they are pleased with their new home.

UPSET ABOUT BILLS

At its first meeting at the new location, the Village Board's big issue was water and sewer bills.

The village has begun metering water usage, and some residents attended to say they were surprised at the cost.

While most municipalities meter their water, Keeseville residents had paid a flat rate for many years, with fees set according to various categories of usage.

New York state has made metering a condition for grants given to Keeseville.

"That is what New York state wanted for years and years," King said.

She said Keeseville's rates stack up similar to other towns and villages, but the fact that this is so new is causing many to become upset over the cost.

"I don't think we're any higher than any other municipality," she said of Keeseville.

ACCOMMODATIONS

The village is allowing users to pay their bills in installments this first billing cycle, as they may have been caught off guard by the change.

The standard fee for the new metered system covers usage of up to 9,000 gallons of water per quarter.

The sewer rate was reduced by 25 percent, said Bezio.

"For the majority of the people paying the water and sewer bills, they're paying a lot less."

Previously, water and sewer bills were based on factors, such as the number of bathrooms in a house. Elderly people living in homes with multiple bathrooms paid much more for water than necessary, officials said.

FAIR SYSTEM

Bezio said the village charges residents enough to cover the cost of treating and delivering the water. It is illegal, he said, to collect more money than what it spends on it. Metering helps to make the calculations more exact.

"People have a tendency to think water is an infinite resource," Bezio said. "Water is a finite source."

The board is reminding people that malfunctions in old plumbing, including leaks, that cause water to run constantly could be the cause for those with unexpectedly high usage. If that is the case, residents are still required to pay the full amount.

While this means some people may have to fix their plumbing, the new system will allow everyone to be charged a fair amount, Bezio said, with bills representing precisely the resources each residence uses.

Trending Video

Recommended for you