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Wed., May. 6
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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At least one of the questions of where Lewis County will house some of its departments has been answered: Not on outer Stowe Street in Lowville.

Members of the Lewis County Legislature voted 6-4 on Tuesday against a $10 million plan to construct an office building. Legislators who opposed the measure said they heard from plenty of constituents who said this wasn’t the best time for the county to take on this much debt.

And representatives of the village of Lowville expressed concerns about the impact of building this facility at the planned site. A five-page letter from the village was delivered to legislators the evening of the vote. In it, officials said that issues regarding traffic and sewer capacity had not yet been resolved.

County legislators have been debating how to proceed on this idea for several years. Space is leased for some of their departments, and these facilities have proven inadequate for the staff members trying to carry out their duties.

So there seems to be little doubt that the county needs to find better accommodations. The main question was if the Legislature should approve a plan to spend $10 million constructing a new facility or if it should look for additional office space to fulfill its needs.

Legislators have also been discussing the possibility of investing in new communications equipment for the county. A study conducted in 2011 concluded that the emergency radio system was antiquated.

The study said that upgrading it could cost as much as $11.6 million. But this was for a VHF-based system with eight towers. County officials said they would prefer a UHF-based system with at least 10 towers.

So there is no shortage of demands on the county’s revenue. This obviously made some legislators uneasy about going forward with plans to load up on additional debt and construct a new office building.

One of the other problems with this plan is that the office building would not be located in Lowville’s downtown. Lowville is the seat for Lewis County, and as such a prime spot in the village is essential.

Basing the bulk of services run through the county’s headquarters downtown makes the most sense. This would bring more people into the main commercial district for Lowville, benefitting the businesses already there.

And the infrastructure issues in Lowville surrounding the proposed Stowe Street location would not be as prevalent if Lewis County moved its operations downtown. This section of the village is prepared to take on the additional traffic and sewer usage.

County officials made a wise move by voting against the $10 million office building project. Now they need to find suitable space for their departments in Lowville’s downtown. The additional foot traffic from residents requiring county services and staff members providing them will be a true asset for the community where it’s most needed.

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