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Massena Town Council considers sale of riverfront property

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MASSENA - The Massena Town Council is once again considering its options with property at the Massena Intake and Massena Point turned over to the town by the New York Power Authority as part of the 2003 relicensing agreement.

During the town council meeting Wednesday, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray dicussed the possibility of selling 67 acres near the Massena Intake, along with about 90 acres at Massena Point.

Councilman John F. Macaulay said they should first have the land appraised to determine its fair-market value. He would also like the town to work with a realtor, if they do decide to sell the land.

“We should list that property now,” Mr. Macaulay said. “There’s no reason we couldn’t try to carve land out.”

Over 300 acres of land formerly held by NYPA was returned to the towns of Massena, Louisville, Lisbon and Waddington at no cost following the 2003 relicensing of the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project.

But little has been done yet with those parcels. Officials blame a lagging property market and a general hesitancy throughout the region toward making large investments during uncertain economic times.

Any kind of development along the St. Lawrence River has been a long time coming, according to Mayor James F. Hidy.

“I just can’t imagine how NYPA owned all these properties along the St. Lawrence River. We’ve been basically in Massena landlocked for all these years,” Mr. Hidy said. “People like to gravitate toward the water. And you’ve had your thumbs on these properties for years and years and years. Hopefully this is the start of lightening up a little bit.”

According to a study completed by a consulting firm retained by NYPA in January 2011, nine parcels of property along the shores of Waddington, Louisville and Massena are best suited for a marina or other large-scale commercial development,

The study evaluated land currently or formerly owned by NYPA in the three towns adjacent to the St. Lawrence River. Its conclusions are meant to show the towns which parcels would be the easiest for “shoreline development,” proposals that could include a marina, commercial dock or restaurant.

Those nine parcels are on or near Whitehouse Point and Whittaker Park in Waddington, on Mutton Ridge and adjacent to the Lake St. Lawrence Yacht Club in Louisville, and near the Massena Water Intake and Robert Moses State Park in Massena.

Mr. Gray suggested last week the town board should explore possible recreational uses for the property.

“My thought was (because) we’re not in a hurry to sell the property, or any (of the properties), we should consider if that land has some alternative use,” Mr. Gray said. “It could be used to benefit tournaments or other functions that may be held at the intake.”

Mr. Gray noted an annual fishing tournament is held at the Massena Intake by the New York chapter of the BASS Federation, and the property near the intake could be used as a staging ground. “The town (could provide) some kind of structure for them to do the weigh-ins, for the prizes, for the media, etc.,” he said.

Mr. Gray suugested the town reach out to NYPA for support in building a structure that could be used for the BASS tournament and other functions.

Also discussed at the council meeting was a piece of land at Massena Point. Mr. Gray told the council he’d received some interest in the property in the past. “People who aren’t from the area see (Massena Point) and say, ‘This is gorgeous’,” he said.

Councilman Charles “Chuck” Raiti suggested they consider possible uses for Massena Point for about a month before a vote on whether to put it out to bid. Mr. Gray responded that they could at least entertain the notion of selling the property, even if they decide the land would be better used by the town for recreational purposes.

“We could always list all of (the properties) and if we do want to sell them we do and if we don’t we don’t,” Mr. Gray said.

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