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NYPA to repair road to Massena visitor’s center

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MASSENA - Repairs to the road leading to the Frank S. McCullough Jr. Hawkin’s Point Visitor’s Center will start soon, according to New York Power Authority officials.

And Mayor James F. Hidy and Supervisor Joseph D. Gray are hopeful the repairs are just the beginning of a NYPA recommitment to Massena.

Robinson Bay Road stretches from Barnhart Island Road in Robert Moses State Park to the visitor’s center and beyond. It is the primary throughfare for any tourists traveling to the center, which offers information and exhibits about hydroelectricity and a view of NYPA’s power project across the St. Lawrence River.

The road’s deterioration has become more apparent in recent years, Mr. Hidy said.

“You need a tractor to get out there,” Mr. Hidy said. “People are met with craters in the road.”

Mr. Hidy and Mr. Gray learned of the repairs through a recent meeting with Joseph Leary, NYPA’s vice president of government affairs. NYPA spokeswoman Connie Cullen Friday confirmed the repairs will begin later this year.

“We share the concerns about the road with the mayor and supervisor and expect improvements to the road to be finished by the end of this year,” she said in an email. “The request for competitive bids for the job has just gone out so it is too early to tell the costs.”

Mr. Hidy said he hoped the agency could focus on other improvements at Robert Moses. He and Mr. Gray met with Mr. Leary to share their concerns.

Robert Moses State Park is operated and maintained by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation under an agreement with NYPA, Ms. Cullen said. It is adjacent to NYPA’s Massena operations.

Mr. Hidy said the bridge leading out to the Barnhart Island beach has begun to rust, some grass is overgrown, and the road leading to the Barnhart Island boat launch needs upgrades.

“Their lack of reinvestment in their facilities up here has certainly become a major issue,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s mind-boggling how they let that happen.”

Mr. Gray and Mr. Hidy both serve on the Local Government Task Force, which is comprised of officials from the communities along the St. Lawrence River affected by the siting of the St.Lawrence-FDR Power project decades ago. Massena, Louisville and Waddington lost pieces of taxable land from the dam’s construction.

The task force has been examining ways to receive more benefits from NYPA as the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 relicensing agreement for the power project approaches.

The benefits don’t have to be monetary, Mr. Gray said. NYPA’s staff could provide in-kind services to the host communities, he said.

“I believe there are certain host community benefits that need to be expanded and improved,” Mr. Gray said. “It would be great if a town could go to them and say ‘Can you help us design a gazebo for our park? Can you help us design a riverwalk?’”

Mr. Gray also suggested Robert Moses could host a Christmas lights display at Robert Moses State Park, similar to the “Lights on the Lake at Onondaga Lake Park near Syracuse.

The road repairs to Hawkin’s Point should benefit NYPA and Massena, he said.

“It would be a benefit to them by driving more traffic to the visitor’s center,” Mr. Gray said. “What else could they put along the road to the visitor’s center that would draw more visitors there?”

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