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Ogdensburg to explore electric car-charging idea

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The Ogdensburg City Council on Monday agreed to explore the concept of the installation of an electric car-charging station in the city.

National Grid has received taxpayer funds through the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority to install stations in 70 municipalities on their property across the state at a cost of about $15,000 each with a four-year lease. The city would supply the electricity for free.

Mayor William D. Nelson believes the idea is a so-called green energy initiative worth considering. Canadian visitors, he noted, are interested as they would shop and dine in the city - spending money - while having their electric cars charged.

“I’m looking at it as a visionary,” he said.

But some councilors don’t want the city giving anything away.

“Wouldn’t it be better if a private business had it?” asked Wayne L. Ashley said.

In January, the city of Watertown dismissed the idea of installing an electric-vehicle charging station in a municipal parking lot. The city was asked to provide a spot to charge two vehicles. It was also asked to supply free electricity to the green vehicle owners. City Attorney Robert J. Slye advised that charging station would violate the state constitution.

Municipalities are not allowed to provide cash or items of value for free. Nevertheless, the city will seek a legal opinion from the state comptroller’s office.

The parking lots of the city’s Dobisky Center and Richard G. Lockwood Civic Center are the preferred locations for the charging stations. Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley opposes them, preferring outside high-traffic business sites like the Walmart and Lowe’s stores. Councilor Jennifer Stevenson wants to see them close to downtown and the waterfront to generate business which she said is the city’s mission.

In other business, the council approved the appointments of Larry Mitchell, Seth Pinkerton and Jack Manke to the city recreation commission.

Mr. Pinkerton and Mr. Manke will serve as, respectively, student representative and alternate student representative.

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