Plattsburgh Common Council considers development issues during recent meeting
The Plattsburgh Common Council considered several boilerplate issues and delved into development funding and contract issues at its latest meeting.
Councilors regularly approve the payrolls of various city departments and bills audited since their last meeting.
In reviewing other items, they considered whether to amend the Capital Expenditure Plan to include Phase 3 of the Saranac River Trail. Mayor Chris Rosenquest explained the $271,600 adjustment.
“This is the change in funding for the Saranac River Trail Phase 3 which will connect to the future Riverwalk," the mayor said. "But this is a change of the funding, the additional funding, that we were previously receiving for the Bridge Street redevelopment.”
Ward 1 Democrat Julie Baughn wanted clarification that $138,000 of the appropriation would come from a settlement with New York State Electric and Gas, which is remediating property on Green Street along the Saranac River.
“This $138,000 is still coming from NYSEG?" asked Baughn.
“Correct," Rosenquest responded. "We will still use that money to develop Green Street but we will do it essentially on our own timeline versus when they were done they were just going to complete the work themselves. But rather we’re going to do that work on their behalf essentially. But it’s going to contribute to the larger scale river trail.”
In 2020 the city began seeking bidders to submit proposals for development of an area called Harborside, at the confluence of the Saranac River and Lake Champlain. A resolution before the Common Council would authorize the mayor to enter an agreement for potential development of the hotel parcel of the property, but not set “a definitive course of action.”
Ward 6 Democrat Jeff Moore has doubts and told the mayor the city needs to better protect itself in the contract.
“That’s a very large chunk of Harborside and it’s not like projects like this haven’t fallen apart in the past," Moore said. "I think we should allow ourselves a way to recoup that property should the project fall apart. That would protect the city.”
“To clarify this is not a development agreement," the mayor noted. "What we’re talking about tonight is an agreement to allow the awardee of this RFP to continue to do their due diligence on the property itself.”
Rosenquest, a Democrat, emphasized that there is not yet a plan sell the property nor a development agreement.
The resolution passed on a 4 to 2 vote.
During public comment resident and retired SUNY Plattsburgh Professor Kim Hartshorn asked city leaders to actively support state funding for the SUNY system.
“Nineteen campuses are in financial distress including SUNY Plattsburgh," Hartshorn said. "You know, funding SUNY is funding higher education, but for the upstate communities it’s a real economic driver. Support for the SUNY budget that’s in the governor’s budget would be great. More support would be better.”
During new business, the mayor said he would follow up on that idea.
“I can draft a letter to our state representatives and Governor [Kathy] Hochul for council support for SUNY funding and I will leave it up to those members of the council to sign on to that kind of support letter," said Rosenquest.
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Ward 3 Democrat Elizabeth Gibbs.