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Sat., Aug. 29
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Potsdam Town Board shows initial support for airport annexation proposal


POTSDAM - The Potsdam Municipal Airport could be under complete village ownership in the future after a proposal for the facility’s annexation was met with general support Tuesday evening.

Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis presented his proposal for a move that he says could lead to more grant opportunities Tuesday night to the Potsdam Town Board.

Mr. Yurgartis said that the airport, also known as Damon Field, is on property owned by the village but is actually located outside village boundaries.

“A second point I wanted to make is that the airport provides regional wide benefits,” he said. “Currently the airport is funded and operated by the village of Potsdam and just to give you an example of the investment that we’ve made - last year the village spent $49,177 of village taxpayer money to maintain the airport. In the past decade we’ve spent more than $600,000 in both maintaining the airport and in growing the airport.”

The mayor said that there are also two strips of land at the airport that are owned by Clarkson University.

“What we would like to get the town board’s permission to do is to annex two of these properties into the village of Potsdam. (The Clarkson owned) properties are not critical to the operation of the airport, and I have not included that in the boundaries I am asking you to approve,” Mr. Yurgartis said.

Among the benefits that the transaction would lead to is the ability to more efficiently operate the airport according to the mayor. Additionally, it gives the village the ability to do planning and zoning control, their own code enforcement and it gives them the ability to collect tax revenue from privately owned buildings and operations at the airport.

“We are in the process of putting together a 10-year master plan for the airport and part of that long range planning is to try to get this property to be inside the village for the reasons that I’ve outlined,” Mr. Yurgartis said. “If you look back at this map, you’ll see that Clarkson property stretches a long ways parallel to our airport. And so any changes to the airport lighting, etc. - whatever happens on that property is critical to the operation of airport.”

The town board held an unofficial vote to get a sense of the interest level and all were at least partially in favor of the idea.

Councilwoman Judith R. Rich was the lone member to express any concern. She asked the mayor to reach out to Clarkson to see if they would donate the village their land, and he said he would make that contact.

“I’d be happier about the annexation if Clarkson gave you that strip,” Ms. Rich said.

“That’s up to Clarkson. I’d be happy to accept the property from them but that’s up to them,” Mr. Yurgartis said.

“Would it help you to get that strip - I don’t know what other board members think - if our letting you annex it was contingent upon you getting it?” Ms. Rich asked.

“I don’t want to twist arms like that. ... They have heard about our annexation request, and they are currently saying they don’t see a difficulty with it but they need to study it more. They have not made a decision but they seem open to the possibility of the annexation,” the mayor responded.

The annexation would have a minimal effect on the town, according to Mr. Yurgartis.

There would be about a $1,500 loss in the town’s fire protection fund but no loss in the general revenue.

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