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Potsdam Village Trustee opposed to $27,500 riverwalk application

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POTSDAM - The village of Potsdam’s plan to spend $250,000 on a waterfront revitalization project concerned Trustee Eleanor F. Hopke, and she expressed similar concerns with downtown riverwalk plans.

Village officials passed a resolution Monday to submit an application for MAP 21 Transportation Alternatives Program assistance to construct the proposed riverwalk.

“I have the same problem here about committing general fund revenue. We have a lot of other things we need to use our general fund revenue for,” Ms. Hopke said. “I just don’t see that this is yet in a position where we know exactly what we’re talking about.”

With the approval, the village will commit $27,500 in grant funding through the state Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program to be used for “preliminary architectural design work.” They will also use $74,775 in General Fund revenue to “meet the non-federal share of project costs,” according to the resolution.

“The obvious question is ‘What happens if both (project grants) come through?’ What happens if both comes through is that we use a federal fund for 50 percent share of the local waterfront revitalization program,” Potsdam Planning and Development Director Fred J. Hanss said. “This kind of approach is used occasionally and it may work in this case.”

Village Trustee Ruth F. Garner admitted to having some concerns with the project itself, but voted in favor of the spending.

“There are some aspects of this that I don’t like and I shall continue to speak out about them. But in general I think that it is a very good program,” Ms. Garner said. “I’m voting yes with reservations.”

Ms. Hopke was the lone member of the board to vote against the resolution.

The village board adopted the 10-year Downtown and Waterfront Revitalization Plan in 2012, which was developed by a local waterfront advisory committee. This group was comprised of village residents and stakeholders.

Among the items in the plan was the development of the downtown riverwalk, whose focus was to develop a pedestrian and bicycle path as a safe and convenient connector route to destinations within the village.

“(It) would travel down Maple Street to the hydro electric facility that we just completed on the west dam. ... Essentially the plan would be to secure a right of way from Swan Landing, come with a switch back path that would take users up to the Sandstone Drive, where they would come up on the sidewalk and this would be ADA compliant,” Mr. Hanss told village board members last month.

As part of the project, the village will install signage directions for the public to destinations within the village.

The anticipated budget for the project is approximately $500,000, up to 80 percent of which the village is seeking to be covered by federal reimbursement. The village would use its own resources to pay the remaining 20 percent, according to Mr. Hanss.

The estimated costs are based on projections from the project’s engineer, Chazen Companies.

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