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Bridge Authority must refocus its mission

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Regarding the Sept. 20 story titled “Ante Up, Castle Owner Told,” I wonder how did we get here.

The original promises made by the Thousand Island Bridge Authority and its financials can be obtained by requesting them from the town of Alexandria. The financials from the TIBA’s September meeting show the bridge authority took in $2,850,917.42 (year to date) in non-bridge revenue for a profit of $1,387,798.41.

I was so disturbed by the boast of $7,500 in one-day gift sales, I was unable to remind them that the reason for their tax-free status was to maintain the bridge. That requires a uniquely skilled workforce trained at the highest level with the best tooling, safety programs and procedures to keep both workers and the public safe.

The special status was not meant to expand into the businesses of gift shops, ice cream, food, liquor, T-shirts and candy. It was not meant to allow the TIBA to expand its non-bridge revenue into marina purchases.

The application the TIBA submitted contains assurances of returning land to the tax rolls. Not “When the opportunity to acquire and alternative location came up, TIBA jumped on it” like Mr. Horr stated.

Authorities do work under unique rules, but companies would have a problem with spending $1 million on what I would classify as a paint locker based on Mr. Horr’s description. The TIBA application for the land gifts had more promises than “not penalizing taxing jurisdictions.”

Promises to keep the land open to the public have been repeatedly broken. The marina was open to fishing for years until the TIBA locked fishermen out.

Mr. Horr’s answer was incorrect about public use in the summer also. There are more than a half dozen signs that say different.

I called Phil Reed a couple of years ago to complain about the purchase. He told me then, “I did not agree with taking it off the tax rolls, but that is why we appointed a river guy to the TIBA board to look out for the river community.”

He also said, “The area I represent has the most tax-free property in the entire state.” He seemed frustrated, and I had hope when the marina property was reopened to fish that winter. Unfortunately, it was closed the following year as were other fishing areas that had never been closed before.

If Mr. Reed’s claim on untaxed land is true, Mr. Warneck’s answers are puzzling. To Mr. Warneck, taking a $1 million piece of property off the tax rolls is only 5/10,000 percent. That’s no big loss for Mr. Warnek translated into a loss of $10,900 for Alexandria Central School alone.

If taxing jurisdictions need to renegotiate, I would strongly suggest all of them to obtain representation outside the TIBA sphere of influence. Call your representatives.

Dean A. Erck

Alexandria Bay

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