Agency member offers assurance

TASK FORCE PLEDGE: Plans for NYPA power, $16m will consider ecological concerns

By Elizabeth Graham, Times Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CANTON — Attempting to put an environmental group's fears to rest, a member of an agency proposed to administer $16 million and 20 megawatts of low-cost power for economic development said Monday that plans for the assets will take ecological concerns into account.

"I don't think any of the economic development proposals we will put forward are in conflict with good environmental principles," Robert O. McNeil, Local Government Task Force chairman and St. Lawrence County treasurer, told lawmakers and members of the St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition at the Legislature's meeting.

Mr. McNeil will represent Lisbon on the soon-to-be-formed St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency, a group that will decide how the money and power from the New York Power Authority will be used.

The $16 million is money left over from the defunct St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center project, and coalition members said officials should not forget its intended use.

"I would like to see more educational and environmental components added to the use of the funds," said Michael R. Twiss, coalition member and director of Clarkson University's Great Rivers Center.

Richard W. Grover, a coalition steering committee member, said the original river agency proposal included plans for a large industrial park. He said the agency instead should employ a strategy similar to a greenway plan NYPA supported for the Niagara River. The plan preserves green space while encouraging economic and community development.

When approving its participation in the river agency, however, Mr. McNeil said county officials wanted the money and power to benefit communities outside the agency's member towns — Lisbon, Waddington, Louisville and Massena. He said no concrete plans for the money and power have been made.

"The ideas in the original proposal are examples, not requirements. We were asked to demonstrate what we might do. We'd welcome any suggestions," he said.

Mr. Grover said after the meeting that he is disappointed a large-scale greenway plan won't be considered, but he thinks it could still come about in some form.

"I do feel some confidence that this may play out OK in the end," he said. "The Redevelopment Agency is going to have to initiate some kind of planning process to decide how they're going to move forward, and we will participate in that process as it evolves.

For information about and suggestions for this site Contact the Webmaster.