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Town of Colton forms Economic Enhancement Committee following lively banter and feud

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COLTON - The Colton Town Board has approved the formation an Economic Enhancement Committee chaired by ATV Club President Dan Murphy, but the decision did not come without a lively debate between board members.

After an initial resolution was drafted by Councilman Ronald Robert, Town Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger approached the board with a revised edition of the resolution, altering some language of the contract, which set off some fireworks at the January town board meeting.

The resolutions proposed by Mr. Robert and Mr. Bulger each focused on creating “new opportunities” to “enhance and promote tourism, recreation, and economic opportunities within the town.”

Mr. Robert said that he met with some other members of the community recently to discuss the formation of the committee. “We met, a bunch of us that are interested in all of this. I went through a lot of the community and businesses and the fishing game club, and we talked about getting everybody involved. Basically, (we want to) get the trail system and the roads open, get high school kids involved a little bit. We have a lot of good ideas. I suggest Dan be the chairman of (the group),” he said.

Mr. Murphy said initially the group set some goals they wanted to hit in 2014 they thought would be good for Colton businesses. “Then, about halfway through we kind of put the brakes on and said, ‘We’re kind of doing the same thing that businesses have been complaining about,’ at least to us. And the background was setting goals for them, based on what we think they want and kind of switch gears and set goals for this year to set up ways to understand what Colton businesses want and what the non-profit groups want to help their situation,” he noted.

“So what we thought would be a good, at least initial goal for the first quarter of this year, is come up with a contact list for every business, every non-profit, every user group in the greater Colton area. Then out of that, find out who wants to be involved and then pick through committee and through the board approval, a diverse group of people so everyone has a say in what this group does and mainly focusing on economic enhancement - what we can do to further develop businesses, bring new business in, and make sure that the businesses that we currently have succeed,” Mr. Murphy added.

Mr. Robert noted that he and Mr. Murphy have already talked with several people and businesses to get a sense of how much interest they will have.

The town board held a special meeting at the end of December to discuss the resolution, where language of the resolution was discussed.

When Mr. Robert made a motion to accept his drafted resolution, Councilman Donald Shoen seconded it. Before going up for a vote though, Mr. Bulger pointed out some potential concerns with the way the resolution was worded.

“I take exception to a couple of things. I thought we agreed during our special meeting to redact the part that says, ‘Whereas, creating new committees and restructuring some of the current committees.’ I thought we agreed to redact that part of the sentence,” Mr. Bulger explained. “Also, down on the resolution where it says, ‘Be it further resolved the board will appoint chairperson of said committees annually, who shall recruit committee members from divergent stakeholder groups for review and board appointment,’ I take exception to that.”

Mr. Bulger followed his explanation by distributing a revised edition of the resolution to board members. “This one here, there’s not that big of a difference,” he said.

Mr. Bulger’s resolution differed from Mr. Robert’s proposed language in three ways - leaving out the idea of restructuring some of the current committees and a single, capitalized, bold word regarding residents of the town.

“I took out the ‘ALL’ in capital letters which I think has a hidden meaning to that. I don’t think we need that. So I think (the Economic Enhancement Committee) will further serve the business and residents of the town would suffice,” Mr. Bulger said.

The third difference between the two resolutions involved taking out the idea of the committee chairperson recruiting members from divergent stakeholder groups. “We don’t need to get into that. We appoint the chairman, we appoint the agenda, we appoint the mission statement for the year, and that should be sufficient. That takes out, in my mind, some other hidden meaning that I see in there,” Mr. Bulger said.

“Where is the hidden meaning? That’s what I don’t understand,” Mr. Robert responded. “There’s no hidden meaning in (his resolution). None.”

“Why did you want to capitalize ‘ALL?’” Mr. Bulger asked.

“It points out that everybody will be included. Nobody’s going to be left out. That’s what ‘all’ means,” Mr. Robert responded.

Mr. Bulger explained that his resolution would be a better fit, mainly because Mr. Robert’s resolution could be misconstrued.

“To me, (it) makes it clearer, it’s not subject to misinterpretation, and it accomplishes what you want to do.”

St. Lawrence County Trails Coordinator Deb Christy shared her thoughts with the board. “I feel that the whole board needs to make a vote and a decision and I see it shifting back and forth of everyone trying to get one on one side, everyone trying to get one on the other side. We’re a community that should be working together,” Ms. Christy said.

Mr. Shoen rescinded his second on the initial resolution, and the board unanimously adopted the revised resolution drafted by Mr. Bulger.

The Beautification & Tourism Committee, as well as the Recreation Committee, will coexist along side the new Economic Enhancement Committee.

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