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Mayor Holds Community Discussion On Potential Purchase Of Plattsburgh Boat Basin

Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest (left) answers a question from Morgan Wilson (in green t-shirt) during Community Conversation on the Plattsburgh Boat Basin
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest (left) answers a question from Morgan Wilson (in green t-shirt) during Community Conversation on the Plattsburgh Boat Basin

During its June 10 meeting, the Plattsburgh Common Council’s Finance and Community Development Committee reviewed a proposal favored by the mayor to buy nearly 12 acres of land along the city of Plattsburgh waterfront that includes a marina.  The committee deadlocked and the mayor cast the vote to move it to the full council for consideration.  That proposal has not yet appeared on the Common Council’s agenda. In the meantime the mayor has been holding informal “community conversations” about the proposal.

Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest, a Democrat, is proposing the city buy the property known as the Plattsburgh Boat Basin and surrounding acreage for $7.3 million. It is adjacent to the city-owned marina.

On Wednesday evening about two dozen people gathered in City Hall for a second “Community Conversation” on the controversial plan.

Resident Denise Nephew wondered if the city had scrutinized the numbers and she questioned the wisdom of moving forward. 

“This isn’t budgeted," Nephew said. "I don’t think any of us would have a problem if we saw it was budgeted in the capitol plan, in the five-year plan. Give you a chance to get the grants in. I don’t think anybody in this room doesn’t want more waterfront. I don’t. It’s just how do we get there without getting us back in a hole that we just got out of?”

There were a number of questions about the proposal and Mayor Rosenquest weaved around the room as he responded. During one exchange he joined contractor Morgan Wilson, Nephew and resident Martin Bordelon and realtor Neal Fessette over the property’s assessed value versus the offered price.
Mayor Rosenquest: “There has not been a business valuation for this property.”
Nephew:  “Why not? Do you have that number?”
Fessette:  “I’m not here to argue for or against either…”
Wilson:  “No but if you have one then why don’t we have it or why doesn’t the city have it?”
Fessette:  “I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement.”
Wilson:  “Okay.”
Fessette:  “All of these types of assets are based off the net income that they generate.”
Nephew:  “We need to know these things!”
Mayor Rosenquest:  “Part of the sale agreement is gaining access to that because there’s non-disclosures. So when we talk about the proposal itself we’re not talking about let the city of Plattsburgh go into an agreement and then sign a check for the asking amount. It’s let the city of Plattsburgh go into an agreement so that we can find the business valuation and we make a fair offer.”
Bordelon:  “The question is why did you offer seven and a half (million dollars) without doing your due diligence?”

Contentiousness over the idea flared occasionally including this portion of an exchange between the mayor, resident Stuart Friedman and City Chamberlain Richard Marks.
Mayor Rosenquest: “The biggest argument: why don’t we take care of the things that we got now?”
Julie Ross:  “Why can’t do both?”
Friedman: “No we can’t.”
Mayor:  “Please Please.”
Friedman:  “They may charge you a couple hundred billion there.”
Mayor:  “Hey Stuart come on.”
Friedman: “I don’t know. I’m asking …”
Mayor:  “Please. Hey we’re trying really to have constructive dialog around this okay?”
Marks: “Anyway I just don’t understand why people have come here to heckle instead of discuss this.”
Friedman: “I didn’t come here to just listen to the Mayor.”
Mayor:  “If you can’t keep it civil just go please.”

Mayor Rosenquest said the item will not be placed on the Common Council’s agenda yet.

“There’s still a number of questions or uncertainty or need for clarification for this," the mayor said. "You know how much does it cost for the city to enter this agreement? What does this agreement mean? How do you get numbers? There a lot still involved. And one thing I’m glad that the councilors were here right? Because they can see the split. They can have the conversations that I’ve been having with community and they can see that people are conflicted.”
Five of the six city councilors attended the community conversation on the proposal to purchase the Plattsburgh Boat Basin.