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Village board to decide whether or not to borrow $ for Aluminum Trail repairs

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MASSENA - When the village board meets next month, it will decide whether to borrow money to pay for repairs to the foot bridge over the Grasse River on the so-called Aluminum Trail.

According to a memo from Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad, the village would have to borrow $239,200 to finance their share of the project, which carries a total price tag of $1,681,00, most of which will be paid for through a Federal Transportation Enhancement Program Grant of $1,153,800.

Mr. Fayad said that grant was awarded based on a projected cost of $1,143,000 for the project, which was to originally include an extended walking trail that stretched from East Orvis Street across the Grasse River footbridge onto Liberty and Stoughton avenues, then head out from North Main Street to the Massena Water Intake on Route 131.

That project has now been reduced to a overhaul of the footbridge and work to the bridge approach on both sides.

While designs for the project have been completed and the Department of Transportation would like to put the project out to bid in September, Mr. Fayad said he would like to see the bidding process postponed.

“I think it would be better to postpone that until the winter months when the contractors are a little more hungry,” he said, adding since the project is utilizing federal funds the village will also be required to make it handicapped accessible.

Trustee Patricia K. Wilson said she would support getting the work done.

“I’ve been in communities where they have trestle bridges like this,” she said. “They’re very nice.”

And while that may be the case, Mr. Hidy said Massena’s bridge is in pretty rough shape.

“It’s in dire straights,” he said. “We have a good opportunity here. Costs are only going to increase.”

Trustee Francis J. Carvel said the village was originally sold on the project because they were going to receive $185,000 from the New York Power Authority to help cover the project’s cost.

When asked if they were still going to receive that money, Mr. Fayad replied, “I would say no.”

“That’s how it was sold to us,” he replied, also noting Alcoa and the Massena Electric Department had also vowed assistance with the project.

“Now nobody is going to give us money?” he asked.

Ms. Wilson said that since the project has changed, the apparent lack of assistance could simply be because those outside entities haven’t again been contacted for help.

Mr. Carvel said it was his understanding that Alcoa was going to provide the aluminum needed for the project, and MED was going to “do wiring and anything electrical that needed to be done.”

Should the village opt to not borrow the money, they would lose the grant, as well as the $288,000 they have already invested in the project.

“If we walk away from it, it’s like we’re pushing $288,000 off the table,” Trustee Timothy J. Ahfeld said.

“And we’ll still have an aging foot bridge,” Mr. Hidy said.

Since Mr. Fayad suggested pushing the bidding back, Ms. Wilson suggested tabling the decision for a month to allow village officials to reconnect with agencies that had previously promised their assistance.

“I know MED is still on board with us,” Mr. Fayad said, adding he and Mr. Hidy will reach out to Alcoa to see where they stand the project. Mr. Hidy also said he would reach out to the power authority.

“Let’s put it on the agenda for next month,” Mr. Ahfeld said.

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