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Ogdensburg City Council divided over Fort La Presentatioin resolution

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The Ogdensburg City Council was divided its unity Monday over three resolutions in support of Fort La Presentation’s plans to enhance the fort site at Lighthouse Point.

The lawmakers were asked to endorse the Fort Association’s applications for grants from the state to develop walking trails and sidewalks along Lighthouse Point where the historic settlement will eventually be built. A third resolution sought the council’s support of the city applying on the association’s behalf for a $20,000 matching grant to develop a feasibility study for a visitors center at the site.

The council voted 4-2-1 for the walking trails and sidewalks grants and 4-1-1 in favor of the feasibility study. Mayor William D. Nelson was absent for the vote on the feasibility study grant. Councilman William D. Hosmer abstained from both votes because he is a former Fort Association board member.

Councilor Wayne L. Ashley voted no on all three, accusing the association of no transparency with its finances.

“No one knows,” he said. “It’s a big secret. I’d like a clear financial picture.”

Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley voted against the walking trails and sidewalks grants, citing as a reason ongoing litigation between the association and Roethel family of Ogdensburg.

In May 2012, the association filed a $150,000 suit against Rhonda and Blair Roethel, charging them with trespassing and storing boating and snowmobile equipment on its property. The association claims ownership of a swath of Lighthouse Point to the south and west of the Roethels’ lighthouse home.

Mr. Morley resents the litigation.

“It’s a protest vote,” he said of his decision. “I think they need to be a better neighbor to the Roethels.”

Mr. Nelson voted yes, but noted that the litigation has taken its toll.

“It has divided the community,” he said.

“I don’t even want to respond to that,” said Barbara J. O’Keefe, president of the association, apologizing for missing the 7 a.m. council meeting she thought was at 7 p.m.

Councilors R. Storm Cilley, Jennifer Stevenson and Daniel E. Skamperle also voted all yes.

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