SLVEC In The News

 PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT

 An Open Letter to Local Citizens: 

The newly formed St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (RVRDA) will soon be receiving $16 million from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), and public input is needed to help shape the Agency’s strategic plan for how this money will be spent. The money is left over from the unsuccessful effort to develop a St. Lawrence Aquarium & Ecological Center, and is earmarked for economic and community development including environmental enhancement and conservation.  Money will be potentially available to small businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations.

We are contacting you because you have shown concern for our area environment, either by signing a petition opposing burn barrels, or by adding your name to a list of those supporting a clean St. Lawrence River.  Just over a year ago, the St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition (SLVEC) was formed out of concern that the public was being excluded from the process of reallocating the monies that were part of a re-licensing agreement with the NYPA.  It alarmed us that resources were being diverted from environmental and educational projects to the control of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency (IDA).

We urge you to attend the upcoming meetings to support our River and our future.  All...

The St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition (SLVEC) has, through its Steering Committee, been an advocate for the environment  in the on-going deliberations concerning $16 million leftover from the St. Lawrence Aquarium & Ecological Center.  The major players in these deliberations are the Local Government Task Force, the County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA).  Our involvement dates back to late last spring, when we first requested an open and inclusive process for deciding how the Aquarium money will be allocated once it is released by NYPA.  Since then we've advanced sensible ideas, like a comprehensive Greenway Planning process, which would allow all the stakeholders to identify the best opportunities for improving the local economy while protecting the local environment.  We recommended an on-going role for the County Environmental Management Council in the review of projects proposed to be funded with the Aquarium money.  We proposed that an endowment be established that would help finance worthy projects in perpetuity.  We questioned the plan to give the IDA $300K to administer the Aquarium funds, and to spend  $7.5 million on a 'super' industrial park.  We criticized the IDA's plan to exclude educational projects and assistance to farm-based businesses from the allocation program.  We opposed giving the IDA the power to veto any projects it didn'...

By Laura Bomyea, Johnson Newspapers, Thursday, December 17th, 2009

MASSENA — New York Power Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel says a brewing battle between a group of environmentalists and the task force charged with coming up with a way to dole out $16 million and 20 megawatts of hydropower has been diffused.

With all involved parties now working cooperatively, Mr. Kessel said he expects to hash out the details of the proposed St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency in the coming weeks, in time for the NYPA board of trustees to hear and vote on the proposal during its late-January meeting.

And, he said, he may even throw in an additional 2 megawatts of hydropower, giving the community 22 megawatts of low-cost power to attract businesses here.

The CEO and a small cadre of NYPA officials held a closed-door session with members of the Local Government Task Force, the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, elected officials and economic development professionals Wednesday afternoon at the Frank S. McCullough Jr. Hawkins Point Visitors Center.

During the session, Mr. Kessel said he was briefed on the RVRDA plan by members of the task force. According to the proposal, the RVRDA would be charged with deciding how to allocate the $16 million and 20 megawatts and would work in concert with the IDA and possibly other agencies to offer grants, loans or other incentives to create jobs in the...

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...

By Laura Bomyea, Johnson Newspapers

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MASSENA — Local Government Task Force Chairman Robert O. McNeil says a group of environmentalists is dredging up old grievances and making baseless accusations in an attempt to delay the creation of the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency.

He argues the battle being waged by members of the St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition over how to best invest the $16 million and 20 megawatts of hydropower the proposed RVRDA would administer is premature since the New York Power Authority has yet to approve the creation of the agency.

Members of the St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition allege they have been shut out of the task force's deliberations on how to use the money and power. Some, including coalition member Richard W. Grover, have argued the RVRDA proposal is too narrow and does not take into account environmental interests in how it plans to allocate the resources.

But Mr. McNeil said the RVRDA has not yet been formed — only four of the five members have been appointed so far — and discussions about how and where to invest the money and power have not yet begun.

"Before we fight over how we're going to spend the money and power, we ought to at least get it," he said. "We have finally settled this agreement between the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the RVRDA to administer it. Now we can move...

NYPA official: heed group RIVER PROJECTS: CEO says environmental concerns have merit

By ELIZABETH GRAHAM
& LAURA BOMYEA
JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2009
The New York Power Authority's top official says members of a proposed agency to mete out $16 million and 20 megawatts of low-cost power for economic development should consider environmental views in deciding what projects the money and power should assist.

"It's important that the environmental community up there has some more input," said Richard M. Kessel, NYPA president and chief executive officer. "I don't think NYPA should be getting involved in determining their role, but I want to make sure the leaders of the task force hear them and talk to them."

A spokesman for the St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition, a group representing organizations and citizens concerned about the environment, said the proposed St. Lawrence River Redevelopment Agency should weigh projects' ecological impact before agreeing to give out money or power. The agency, once it's formed, will be governed by a five-member panel representing St. Lawrence County and the towns of Lisbon, Waddington, Louisville and Massena.

The coalition's pleas so far have largely fallen on deaf ears, member Richard W. Grover said.

"Our group has come to the conclusion that we could do a lot better...

By LAURA BOMYEA, Johnson Newspapers, Friday, November 20, 2009

MASSENA — Local environmentalists say a storm is brewing over the way the proposed St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency will handle $16 million and 20 megawatts of hydropower offered to the community by the New York Power Authority.

One of the activists' major concerns is their belief that the county's Industrial Development Agency is too focused on luring smokestack industries and big business to be allowed significant control over the money and power.

The environmentalists are also afraid a lack of environmental sensitivity in the proposed agency's mission statement will lead to unsustainable growth, wasteful spending and ecologically harmful business practices.

They also warn a $300,000-per-year agreement between the county IDA and the fledgeling redevelopment agency will cause the power authority funding to be squandered, rather than invested in projects that further economic development and environmental protection.

Over the past several months, St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition members such as Richard W. Grover, a former county planning director, have offered scathing reviews of the redevelopment agency plan.

As the four river communities represented by the Local Government Task Force — Massena, Louisville, Lisbon and Waddington — work with the county and the IDA to push the plan forward, Mr. Grover and his peers are calling...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 14, 2009

The St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition has urged communities and citizens along the river and across the entire county to "take a long and hard look" at the plans of the County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) for spending over $16 million expected from the New York Power Authority.  The Coalition is convinced the IDA's plans are "unnecessarily expensive, will not provide the economic boost our river communities and the county as a whole need, and pose a threat to the local environment."  These views have been expressed in a letter sent to local officials in the towns of Lisbon, Louisville, Massena and Waddington, and county legislators.  The full text of the letter, and an accompanying letter sent to the Local Government Task Force, is attached.

The Coalition recommends "a comprehensive approach to create local jobs while improving our communities and helping to establish a favorable climate for economic growth".  The group is also critical of the IDA's "single-purpose agenda" that is "limited to luring big industry and business to the area."The Coaliton feels the IDA plan is   "laden with administrative overhead and devoid of environmental sensitivity."  Over $300,000 will be spent annually just to administer the program.  The Coaliton favors investing the NYPA money in an endowment that will help fund...

By Laura Bomyea, Johnson Newspaers, Saturday, October 17, 2009.

LOUISVILLE — Despite strong public opposition and spirited disagreement among board members, the Local Government Task Force accepted an agreement Thursday night between the proposed St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency to handle the $16 million and 20 megawatts of power promised by the New York Power Authority.

 The agreement's most contentious stipulation states the IDA will be paid $300,000 per year to market, administer and allocate the money and power based on recommendations made by the RVRDA, which has yet to be formally created.

 The IDA also will reserve the right to turn down any project for funding that it feels should not be given loans, power allocations or other financing.

 Discussions Thursday were punctuated several times by attacks on members of the IDA and the task force — a group representing the towns of Lisbon, Waddington, Louisville and Massena that originally proposed the creation of the RVRDA.

 Task Force Chairman Robert O. McNeil and Massena town supervisor candidate Joseph D. Gray tangled over whether Mr. McNeil was guilty of a conflict of interest because of his role both as county treasurer and his recent appointment to the RVRDA as Lisbon's representative.

 A number of local environmentalists clashed with officials over...

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