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Lisbon seeks the return of NYPA lands

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LISBON – Almost a decade after the town’s struggle with New York Power Authority to take back waterfront lands once controlled by the state, the town is looking to sell and develop land along the St. Lawrence River.

“I don’t know why we ignored these lands, but we were remiss for letting these lands sit, and not getting them on the tax roll,” said Councilman Alan Dailey at Wednesday’s board meeting.

There are still 749 acres of land in the town under NYPA control that are in various stages of being marketed or sold. Town officials said Wednesday they are researching the status of these lands to find out what has already been sold.

The New York Power Authority originally acquired land from the town through eminent domain on Jan. 1, 1957, as part of its St. Lawrence-FDR hydropower project in Massena. The project was relicensed in 2003, but the town opted out of the new 50-year license. Four years later, NYPA returned to the town the land it once needed for the project.

Until now, the town delayed action to develop the lands.

“There’s no way to calculate the real tax revenue that we’ve missed out on over the years,” said Town Assessor Stephen Teele.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, America 1 Reality, Ogdensburg, presented a proposal to sell 14 acres of land located west of Waddington along the St. Lawrence River. On Aug. 17, 2007, these lands, as well as the nine-acre swamp area near them, were appraised at total price of $221,600.

The board adopted a resolution on to allow America 1 to move ahead with advertising the land for purchase, pending the signing of a contract between America 1 and the town attorney.

“They’re the first ones to take the initiative and present us with an option, so we ought go with them,” said Mr. Dailey.

Once approved, America 1 will post advertisements through their realty office, Craigslist and lot signs posted on the property. The realtor hopes to sell the lots by mid-April.

“Our goal is to first generate interest, then offer these lots at a reasonable price, so we can get them sold to generate revenue for the town’s tax base,” said realtor Rhonda Roethel. “Once we get an idea of how much land buyers are looking to purchase, we’ll determine the lot size and value.”

On Nov. 14, 2001, the town also acquired two additional pieces of land adjacent to the Lisbon Campground. In 2001, the 3.6 acres were appraised at $93,600, and were sold to the town for $1.

“We’re going back to 2001 and 2007. Of course these parcels would be worth much more now. We would need to perform a proper appraisal to determine their current value,” said Mr. Teele.

Ideas are still being considered to develop the land. Town Supervisor Jim Armstrong considered developing part of the area into a mini-golf course.

“It would be a great way to attract campers,” said Mr. Armstrong.

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