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Massena approves plan to spending gaming compact money

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MASSENA - Town council members approved a plan to spend the town’s latest allotment of gaming compact funds from the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino at a special meeting Wednesday night.

The town will receive a check for $198,357.78 after the state’s Empire Development Corporation approves a plan on how the money will be spent.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said the payment is for a period ranging from July through September 2013.Mr. Gray proposed splitting the funds into six areas.

This year the town is planning to purchase a dump truck/plow for the town’s highway department at a cost of roughly $240,000. Mr. Gray proposed using $80,000 in gaming compact funds to help offset the cost of the truck.

“I figured a third of the time the truck would be plowing roads on the way to the reservation,” Mr. Gray said to justify the expense.

The next largest allocation,$50,000, will be set aside for the local share of a rail spur at the Massena Industrial Park.

The spur will connect Curran Renewable Energy to the existing railroad at the park. And while the project has a price tag of approximately $942,000, much of that will be paid for through already received grants, leaving a local share of only $106,000. With the assistance of gaming compact funds set aside Wednesday evening, the remaining local share dropped to $56,000.

Two projects will each receive $20,000 in funding with money being allocated for security upgrades at the Massena International Airport and the design of an access road off of the Horton Road.

The road will grant access to a parcel, which will be coming to the town as part of a trade with Alcoa, that is “several hundred” acres in size. One proposed use for the site is a commerce park.

Mr. Gray also allocated $5,000 to build a kiosk at Hawkins Point as part of the River Quest project.

“It’s a perfect fit,” Mr. Gray said, referring to the River Quest initiative, which will highlight attractions in communities on both sides of the border up and down the St. Lawrence River through a series of kiosks along the community’s shoreline.

“The kiosk is a huge part of this,” Councilman Albert N. Nicola said.

Mr. Gray agreed, noting the considers it “money well spent.”

“For a $5,000 buy-in that’s pretty cheap,” he said.

The remaining$23,357,78 will be used to help fund research for potential runway expansion at the Massena International Airport.

Mr. Gray said the airport currently has runways that are 5,600 feet in length, but town officials would like to have runways 6,500 feet in length.

Mr. Gray said such runways would allow the airport to fly passenger planes that could accommodate anywhere from 50 to 100 passengers. Planes currently flying out of the airport carry nine passengers.

“We need to find out the feasibility of this,” he said. “If we were to borrow the money to get that done, we would have to identify other sources of revenue to help pay that off.”

In other board action, the board voted to hire Shawn Hubbard as a heavy equipment operator to fill a vacancy in its highway department.

Mr. Hubbard will be hired at a salary of $19.74 per hour.

Councilman Samuel D. Carbone was not present.

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