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Canton looks at improvements

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CANTON — Ways of making Canton a better place to live — including removal of a burned-out building, creation of a dog park and more parking for shoppers — were explored by the village Board of Trustees Tuesday.

A neighbor of 3-5 Gouverneur St., which burned in February 2011, is again wondering about a cleanup plan, Trustee Mary Ann Ashley said.

Duplex owner Harriet Stebbins Johnson is in an assisted living home on Long Island with no ability to take care of the property. She had offered to sign it over to the town or village if either paid the back taxes, which were approximately $10,000 in 2011.

The village was considering transferring the property for a nominal sum to a contractor who would tear it down and eventually develop the lot, which is in a commercial zone. The village backed off when the town wanted to pursue a grant to pay for the cost of demolition but the money dried up.

Both the town and village have been reluctant to tear down the house because of the cost of asbestos abatement and debris disposal.

Trustees agreed to revisit ground already covered to work toward a solution. They will check with the town on its interest, recontact the owner, determine the amount of the back taxes, and recontact the developer.

Trustees also supported research into a dog park, an idea earlier suggested by Judy L. DeGraaff.

“The issue at hand is where?” Ms. Ashley said. “Certainly the market would be there.”

Sites suggested included Bend in the River Park, Willow Island, and Priest Field. Dog parks are typically fenced areas where dogs can socialize off leash.

“They are all over New York State,” Ms. Ashley said. “It would be a nice community development.”

Trustees also decided to nudge downtown workers into voluntarily leaving the parking spots closest to businesses for customers.

The lower municipal lot between Hodskin Street and Riverside Drive usually has ample spots while the upper lot between Court and Hodskin streets is typically filled with the vehicles of employees of various businesses. One shop owner asked the village to set up parking permits.

“I think the consensus was try the simplest thing first,” Trustee Joseph J. Frank said. “Put signs up saying for nine-to-five customers only and see if that addresses the problem.”

The Canton Chamber of Commerce will also be asked to have businesses discuss the situation among themselves.

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