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DANC funding will help Brasher, Stockholm with current costs of joint water district proposal

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BRASHER FALLS - Brasher officials say $25,000 in funding from the Development Authority of the North Country will allow them to cover the costs they’ve incurred so far in working with Stockholm town officials to create a joint water district.

Both towns have agreed to pay $5,000 each to DANC to assist them with the project. How much they’ll actually spend depends on what services they use from DANC as they move forward with the proposal.

DANC officials said have water and wastewater infrastructure development reserves that are designated by the DANC board for water and wastewater infrastructure developments.

They recently passed a resolution to “establish a capital project within the authority’s Engineering Division and appropriates the sum of $25,000 to assist in the predevelopment costs for the towns of Brasher, Stockholm and Lawrence joint project, such costs being funded from the Water and Wastewater Development Reserves.”

Brasher Councilman John M. Keenan told board members during this week’s meeting that he had received a call from DANC Director of Engineering Carrie M. Tuttle notifying him about the $25,000 funding for the proposed water district.

“It should cover what we’ve invested in it so far,” he said.

The town also plans to use $6,500 in casino gaming compact funds to cover some of the costs, Mr. Keenan said.

Those funds can be used for economic development purposes, he noted.

Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said that, with the $25,000, they and Stockholm officials can use $10,000 for DANC’s services, leaving them with $15,000 that would be split between the two towns to cover the engineering costs incurred so far in the project.

“The money will be going toward the commissioning of some services that will be required to develop the project,” Ms. Tuttle said Thursday.

She said the towns will have a contract with C2AE, an engineering firm from Canton that works with both entitles to prepare reports that are necessary for the formation of the district.

“The development authority will reimburse the towns for those expenses,” she said.

DANC will also reimburse for contract project development services and services related to the project development, up to $25,000, meaning there will be no out-of-pocket expenses for either Brasher or Stockholm.

“The reason we’re providing it is because they are regional projects. It’s really in line with the authority’s mission,” Ms. Tuttle said.

She said similar funding has also been provided for water projects in Clifton-Fine, Oswegatchie-Heuvelton and one in south Jefferson County.

Stockholm Town Supervisor Clark S. Decker had also shared information about the DANC funding with Stockholm Town Board members at a meeting earlier this week. He said DANC’s involvement in the project will assist residents of the two hamlets make an informed decision on the proposed municipal water plan.

“It will be a good source for information to present to the people with no financial exposure to the towns if it is not approved,” he said, noting the proposal has drawn criticism from residents in Brasher Falls in recent days,

Bleach bottles with the word “No” written on them now appear on dozens of lawns between St. Lawrence Central school and the Tri-Town Community Center, the boundary between the towns of Brasher and Stockholm. “There appears to be a lot of negativity right now,” he acknowledged.

Mr. Decker said he had not seen a similar outcry against the municipal water project from Stockholm residents, where the bleach bottles have not yet been spotted.

“The grant dollars will offer an opportunity to get all the information and engineering reports so we can present good solid information to the voters so they can make an informed decision. Should it be defeated the town won’t be left hanging for a lot of money,” he added.

Engineer Timothy A. Burley from C2AE had suggested during a joint meeting between the Brasher and Stockholm town boards in May that they consider using DANC’s services in their effort to bring municipal water to the hamlets of Winthrop and Brasher Falls.

Mr. Burley, who had been working with both towns, said DANC has been successful in getting money for projects such as the one proposed, and he suggested it was time to draw on their expertise to move it forward.

Ms. Tuttle said during that meeting that they could work with regulatory agencies, both boards and engineers, as well as assist in educating residents through public information meetings, public hearings and the possible use of newsletters and flyers.

Although no costs have yet been determined for the project, some residents have already expressed their opposition to it by hanging white bleach bottles with the word “NO” from their mailbox hooks. A survey conducted in the summer of 2011 also saw mixed reaction, with 45 percent of 189 respondents saying they would not support the formation of a public water district. Another 38 percent said they would support it, while 17 percent said they weren’t sure.

At this point, town officials don’t know if their project will be funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Projects submitted for that funding are scored and then funded based on the highest need, and the Brasher and Stockholm project scored 80 points last year. Mr. Burley said $90 million will be available for projects, and the grant recipients will be announced at the end of August or beginning of September.

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