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Waddington residents express concerns over development proposals

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WADDINGTON – The debate among town council members and residents over town-owned properties turned contentious Monday.

G2G Inc. owners Rebecca A. and Jeffrey A. Gerrish, Potsdam, pitched their latest plan to develop Leishman Point into a four-season campground and adventure center and renovate the historic Clark House into a hotel and conference center at Monday’s town council meeting.

About 50 residents attended the meeting to express their interest in or concerns about the project.

The company, which has been in business for a year, proposed entering into a concession agreement with the town. Under the agreement, G2G, would operate a campground on Leishman Point, while the town, which would maintain ownership of the land, would receive an undetermined share of the revenue. The town would incur no losses if the project fails, Mr. Gerrish said.

Considering the localities of nearby campgrounds such as Coles Creek Campground and Lisbon Beach and Campground, many residents questioned the profitability of the business.

G2G predicts that Waddington will receive $27,000 in revenue the first year. G2G measured the amount of revenue based on a six-month operation at 75% capacity, Mr. Gerrish said.

The campground, which would have 14 furnished cabins, 27 RV sites with hook ups and 41 tent sites, would operate year-round.

Resident Nicole Zeledon said $27,000 in revenue is not enough for the town to “hand over” a valuable property like Leishman Point.

“We’re selling ourselves for peanuts,” said Mrs. Zeledon.

But G2G stood by their business model. Mr. Gerrish said Waddington could generate as much as $450,000 after ten years if the project is successful.

“We’ve been studying this,” said Mr. Gerrish. “We know what it would take.”

Resident James Thew, who proposed a similar campground idea earlier this year, said the town “can’t lose” in a concession agreement with a company like G2G.

“The community has been discussing and debating various development proposals for over a decade,” Mr. Scott said. “One of the biggest obstacles to making any of these ideas a reality has been the lack of investment.”

“We have no money to do these projects,” he said. “If they want to get it started, we should give them a chance.”

As a result of the project, G2G predicted over 1,500 people will visit Waddington. Residents called for an impact study of how the influx of visitors would effect the area.

The town council agreed to table the issue until its town attorney can determine a cost for a request for proposal. Following a request for proposal, the council will accept and review proposals put forth from other companies, including G2G, Mr. Scott said.

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