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Madison Barracks building demolition decision tabled, accusations fly about Planning Board chairman

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SACKETS HARBOR — As the village Planning Board on Wednesday night tabled an application to demolish two buildings at Madison Barracks, accusations flew about the board chairman’s conduct.

Michael W. Campbell, representative for developer Michael A. Lawler, told the Planning Board that they requested the delay following a meeting with consulting firm edr Companies, Syracuse. The consultant is expected to deliver soon an initial proposal about further developing the theater and mess hall buildings at Pike Road.

The board will review the demolition application again Aug. 21. The two buildings, built in the late 1800s, have sat empty for more than 60 years.

Several people in the audience asked Chairman Gary M. Gibson to recuse himself, accusing him of bias.

The charges were amplified when it was revealed that Mr. Gibson met with Mr. Lawler and Mr. Campbell by himself earlier in the day. Mr. Gibson and Mr. Campbell said the meeting, about 15 to 20 minutes long, was to relay that Mr. Lawler wanted to delay the application.

Board member Janet S. Quinn said she wanted Mr. Gibson to have another board member present for future meetings.

“Let’s try to make this as transparent as we can,” she said.

Mr. Gibson agreed, but added that the meeting came after multiple reschedulings that made it difficult to get another member present. Mr. Campbell said he would invite all board members to any future meetings to avoid problems.

Mr. Gibson made the point that such stipulations were not needed when Mayor F. Eric Constance talked to Mr. Lawler, drawing a stern rebuke from David W. Altieri, village heritage area director.

“You should not do it, period,” Mr. Altieri said.

Resident Kevin W. Murphy, who at the start of meeting delivered a letter asking for Mr. Gibson’s recusal, repeatedly interjected his frustrations about the chairman.

“There’s no trust in Gary Gibson from this village,” he said.

Board member Merle C. Tousant voiced frustration that the village Board of Trustees last week gave Mr. Constance authority to issue a moratorium for demolition in the village historic district, which he said undermined the board.

Trustee Peter R. Daly disagreed, calling it a “precautionary measure.”

After the meeting, Mr. Gibson said he would not recuse himself from the board’s proceedings, repeating that he had not made up his mind about the application.

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