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Canton Seeks Funding for Pedestrian Bridge

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CANTON - Depending on whether state grant funding comes through, Canton town officials are poised to move forward with a proposed $2.5 million pedestrian bridge project that would link Bend in the River Park with Maple Hill Properties, Route 11.

The project is also contingent on cooperation from the village board, which would have to agree to extend village water and sewer service to Maple Hill, a 72-acre lot co-owned by developers Ted L. Lawrence and Brian W. Staples.

Town Supervisor David T. Button said the project could help spur the development of new homes and businesses in Maple Hill, which would help boost the property tax base for both the town and village. The property is within the village limits and zoned both residential and commercial.

“We want to encourage home growth in our community,” Mr. Button said Tuesday. “When the village grows, the town grows. If we can extend utilities, this opens up a whole area of land for further development,”

At their meeting Monday, the town council is expected to direct Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn to apply for grant funding through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The application deadline is June 11, and the town expects to find out by December if it’s successful.

Last year, the town sought grant funding for the bridge through a state Transportation Enhancement Project grant, but was not among the communities in the state selected.

“It was extremely competitive and they ran out of money. Our application scored well. We received the maximum number of points in all the categories,” Ms. McQuinn said.

The lack of village water and sewer service may deter some developers and homeowners from purchasing parcels in Maple Hill Properties because they don’t want to be dependent on well water, he said.

The project includes developing a public picnic area along riverfront property the village owns in Maple Hill.

Mr. Button said improving community access to water is a top priority in the Canton Community Action Plan, a document that was designed to guide Canton’s future by identifying goals and priorities.

Ms. McQuinn said the actual bridge would cost an estimated $1.9 million, while extending water and sewer service would cost an estimated $580,000.

She said the grant would cover 80 percent of the bridge construction, but would not cover any portion of extending water and sewer service. The municipalities would be required to fund 20 percent of the bridge and all of the cost of extending utilities to Maple Hill.

Village Trustee Daniel McDonnell serves on the Canton Waterfront Advisory Committee and said he supports the town’s decision to apply for the grant funding and thinks the potential benefits may outweigh the cost to taxpayers.

It’s been estimated that if 1.5 homes are built each year at Maple Hill, the village tax levy will increase by $144,000 by 2024, Mr. McDonnell said. Other revenue could come from potential tax-paying businesses.

However, he said significant revenues from taxes and water, sewer fees won’t be realized immediately and the cost of the project is “significant.”

The cost could be covered by grants, the municipalities and possibly private entities that would stand to benefit from the project, he said.

“I think the benefits outweigh the costs to the villagers,” Mr. McDonnell said.

Although the grant is designed to encourage people to walk or bike ride instead of driving in motor vehicles, Ms. McQuinn said economic benefits are also taken into consideration.

Separate from the pedestrian bridge project, Canton Waterfront Advisory Committee is studying the idea of constructing an underpass walkway beneath the Main Street bridge to connect Heritage Park on Coakley Island with Canton Park. That project would cost an estimated $170,000. Both projects were studied by the Barton & Loguidice, a Syracuse engineering firm.

“Once again, that project would enhance access to the waterfront. We would have to sit down and develop a strategy for doing that work.”

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