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St. Lawrence County looks for trails coordinator

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CANTON — A trails coordinator for St. Lawrence County got a boost Monday when the Board of Legislators approved advertising for a contractor to provide the service.

If an organization comes forward that meets the approval of legislators, they expect to spend about $85,000 on a one-year arrangement. Despite the county’s fiscal problems, many legislators saw the service as worthwhile.

“It’s taken many years to come to this point,” Legislator Scott M. Sutherland, R-Pierrepont, said. “A good idea is worth pursuing. We’re really taking care of ourselves when we fund this position.”

Judy L. Wendt, a member of the county’s Trails Advisory Board, urged legislators to see the coordinator as a way to bring in revenue.

“My interest has always been economics,” she said. “Please don’t look at this as spending money. Look at it as investment.”

Whatever the county puts in, volunteers will return the favor, she said.

“We are going to match the money with time, effort, work, machinery, materials, you name it,” she said. “They do that out of the love of what they do.”

There has been talk for years of a trails coordinator, but the time has never seemed ripe.

However, development of a multi-use trail system that is just under 200 miles long is nearing completion. The trail will run along the southern part of the county, through Colton, Parishville, Hopkinton and Clifton before connecting to trails in Franklin and Lewis counties.

“You have a tremendous resource here,” said William E. Dashnaw, who is also a member of the Trails Advisory Board. “We’re at a stage where we need some help.”

Part of the coordinator’s job will be to set up a permitting system and apply for grants.

“In a short period of time, this should become a self-funding position,” Legislator Daniel F. Parker, R-Potsdam, said.

Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, had originally proposed the position as a contract under the umbrella of the county Chamber of Commerce but some legislators balked at paying the Chamber an administrative fee. Mr. MacKinnon restructured the position so that the county can contract directly with an entity that provides the service.

Both Jefferson and Lewis counties have paid trails coordinators who are employees of the counties.

Legislator Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, cast the sole vote against proceeding because of uncertainty over how the position will be paid for.

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