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Gouverneur village plows ahead on improvements

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GOUVERNEUR — The village Board of Trustees advanced a number of projects Tuesday to improve the quality of life and to rebuild the municipality’s structural skeleton.

Trustees agreed to pursue a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant application with the town for a community center for Riverview Park. The most feasible way of procuring the grant is to gear the center toward senior citizens, said David L. Spilman Jr., who made a presentation to the village.

Trustees agreed that if the grant is awarded, they would commit $600,000 in repaid revolving loan funds toward the project.

“If the grant isn’t awarded, you’re back to square one,” Avalon Associates consultant Philip A. Smith said.

Although the community wants a center, questions remain about who would own it after it is built and who would be responsible for ongoing maintenance costs, issues that have been the sticking point in the past. Talk of some kind of center began in 1982.

“This is a very old discussion,” Mr. Smith said.

More definitive action was taken with the approval of a bid award of $326,000 to S&L Electric, Colton, for a switch gear at the hydroplant. The work is not expected to begin until the fall because the part has to be made. The repair will mean village street lights will be out for several weeks because the plant powers them.

Trustees also agreed to award a bid of $30,475 to Con Tech Building Systems, Gouverneur, to demolish 45 Austin St., a property St. Lawrence County transferred to the village for $1 in 2011. The village wanted the house so it could tear it down for access to sewer lines and for the Gouverneur Volunteer Fire Department to reach the Oswegatchie River in case it needed water in the event of a large fire but trustees delayed a decision on demolition trying to find a less expensive solution.

Expenses also racked up for water line improvements the village is installing during the state Department of Transportation’s reconstruction of part of Route 11.

The village had planned to isolate and replace a number of valves and hydrants but found that impossible because adjacent valves would not seal properly, said Mickey G. Lehman, executive vice president of consultant Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown.

“Most of them don’t work. This really needs to be addressed. Many of these valves are paved over. Many of them haven’t been operated in years,” he said. “The pipe line itself is structurally sound.”

Trustees approved a change order of $165,000 to perform the most crucial work. Despite the expense, the project remains within its $1.2 million budget, Mr. Lehman said.

Village board members asked residents to be patient during the construction and commiserated with the complaints of Isaiah L. “Ike” Serviss because his problems with derelict properties on Depot Street have not been a priority.

The village sees the problem but has not come up with a legal solution, Trustee Charles W. Newvine said.

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