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Massena town board allocates first allotment of gaming compact $

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MASSENA - With a check for $88,240.81 waiting for the town of Massena, town board members accepted a plan Wednesday on how to spend that money - something that they had to do before actually receiving the check.

The board voted to submit a plan calling for the check to be divided between five causes, although the money wasn’t allocated without discussion on the matter.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray proposed giving $15,000 to the Business Development Corporation, to help offset the $30,000 they had promised to the organization, but were unable to provide for the current fiscal year.

Mr. Gray also proposed providing $6,000 to FISHCAP, $35,000 to emergency services, $20,000 to the Downtown Revitalization Committee, and allocating the remaining $8,240.81 for airport marketing.

The funds for emergency services will be split between the rescue squad and the fire department, with the rescue squad receiving the $1,400 it requested to purchase a Stokes basket, with the remainder of the money going to the fire department for radio upgrades and a new thermal imaging camera.

In regards to the airport marketing money Mr. Gray said, “Primarily what I’m look at is better signage.”

Mr. Gray also said he would like to see the town partner with Cape Air for some marketing and possibly billboards that would promote both Cape Air and the Massena Airport, “whether it be here or on the Canadian side.”

The item though that garnered the most discussion was the funding for the Downtown Revitalization Committee.

Councilman Charles A. “Chuck” Raiti said he was a little leery of giving money to the committee after being approached for funding to put a fountain downtown.

“I’m hesitant for that reason. If that’s what this is for, I would rather give that money to the people who were just here,” he said, referring to the BDC, who requested some gaming compact funds to help finish a railroad project at its industrial park.

Mr. Gray assured Mr. Raiti that the money would not be used for a fountain.

“They haven’t given me specifics, but we would ask for that before we gave them money,” he said.

Councilman Thomas C. Miller said he wanted to know how much the village was contributing to the downtown revitalization effort.

“Nothing yet,” Mr. Gray said, to which Mr. Raiti responded, “That’s my point.”

“The mayor says they can’t. I disagree with him, but that’s his stance.”

Town Bookkeeper Nancy Fregoe also noted that the budget presented to the board by the BDC also assumed they would receive a $60,000 contribution from the village.

Mr. Raiti said Mayor James F. Hidy has recently expressed satisfaction with the BDC, noting the contribution shouldn’t be a problem.

“They mayor said they were a good job, and he was going to try and get some money for them.”

Mr. Gray also noted that in order to receive the compact moneya plan on how to spend it must first be submitted to the state.

“This is just a plan,” he said. “I’m sure if we said we were going to reallocate the money to the railroad they wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

Mr. Raiti expressed some concern with the unreliability of gaming compact funds, noting the money has disappeared in the past.

“Are you willing to roll the dice?” Mr. Raiti asked the town supervisor, referring to the risk of postponing funding for the rail spur.

“I am,” Mr. Gray replied.

Mr. Raiti countered, “I would rather roll the dice the other way. Let downtown wait and give them this money now.”

After being assured though the plan, was just that - a plan, and not anything set in stone, Mr. Raiti agreed to support the supervisor’s proposal.

Mr. Miller, who is also the volunteer fire chief, abstained from voting on the resolution, as his department is slated to receive $33,600 of the money.

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