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Hounsfield Town Council approves funding of combined development position

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The Hounsfield Town Council Wednesday approved the funding of $15,000 to support a combined economic development position for one year.

The position, to be shared between the town, the village of Sackets Harbor and the Sackets Harbor Chamber of Commerce, has been debated for months. The village board approved its $15,000 in funding in April.

On Tuesday night, the village board approved moving forward with the creation of a marketing position even if it did not receive matching funds from the town.

On Wednesday, Supervisor Timothy W. Scee opened discussion by saying he had “never had as many phone on an issue before this one.”

With several representatives of the chamber and the ad hoc committee which initially proposed the position, much of Wednesday’s meeting revolved around answering questions about the position.

The new employee would attempt to recruit new business to the area and answer to the chamber’s economic development committee. The chamber would then be accountable to the village and town. Each municipality could appoint a liaison to the chamber for day-to- day business.

While the position has not yet been advertised, some residents at the meeting expressed optimism about potential applicants within the village. Jean H. Derouin, a former town supervisor and village mayor, said a person hired years ago to do a similar job had failed due to a lack of local connections and experience.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in this village,” Mr. Derouin said.

Bringing the funding up to vote, Councilman Todd R. Farrington added two provisions, which included the unanimous selection of the new hire between the three parties and a restriction on using town funds for legal fees.

The council approved the proposal with a 4-1 vote, with Councilmen Stephen H. Lee, Richard F. Young, Todd R. Farrington and Vincent J. Battista voting in favor of the funding. Mr. Scee opposed, citing conversations he had with town residents in opposition to the funding.

Mr. Young spoke briefly after the vote was completed. Though he had appeared skeptical of the funding a week before, he spoke on the positive benefits the project could bring.

“There’s opportunity for the town and village to move forward with something that will benefit the whole community,” Mr. Young said. “I think that’s worth taking a chance on. There’s potential for everyone here.”

The final step to create the position is the approval of $2,500 in funding from the chamber. That funding will be decided at its meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 5 in the conference room of the Sackets Harbor branch of Watertown Savings Bank at Main and Broad streets.

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