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Gouverneur to spend $453,000 on village hydro plant repairs

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GOUVERNEUR — The village Board of Trustees agreed Tuesday to spend $453,000 to replace parts in its hydro facility.

The board approved having S&L Electric, Colton, replace the plant’s switchgear and relays, which are believed to date back to the start of the power plant in the 1920s.

The village started rebuilding the power plant in 2006 when it borrowed $363,000 after two blades on one of the turbines broke and dropped into the Oswegatchie River.

The village is still working on its license for the plant with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but believes it can make improvements to the facility in the meantime.

Power from the plant is used to run the water plant, municipal building and streetlights. Once the work begins, the streetlights will be out for a month.

The board also approved architect Brooks A. Washburn, Potsdam, as the designer of the community center that will be built at Riverview Park. Mr. Washburn’s appointment was also on the agenda of the Town Council Tuesday.

The town is the recipient through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council of a $400,000 grant toward the cost of the center, which will be geared toward seniors, but others in the community may also use it. The building will be similar to one in Star Lake, with offices, a kitchen and a meeting space.

The village is a partner in the venture and will contribute $600,000 in repaid revolving loan funds toward the project.

“The plan seems to be nothing more than a very nice banquet hall which takes away from our businesses,” Trustee Charles W. Newvine said.

But Trustee Roger A. LaPierre, owner of the Clearview Restaurant, said he doubted the community center would draw business away from local eateries.

“I think it’s going to be a positive for our community,” he said.

Mr. Newvine also questioned the cost of maintenance and how the town and village will handle the cost.

Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said rough estimates are that the center will cost about $10,000 annually for the town and village.

Rented use of some of the space may offset the maintenance cost, he said.

The board also accepted the resignation of Michael Moroz III, the Department of Public Works superintendent. Mr. Moroz will retire July 15 although his last day at work will be in late May.

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