Students from Plattsburgh High School in Mrs Fren’s Government class who attended the City Council Meeting on Thursday evening may have had a unique look at how a relatively new and inexperienced municipal council struggles through oversight of simple day to day operational decisions.. Taylor Weitzel is one of those students.. she’s graduating this year and headed to SUNY Plattsburgh. Luckily for the students in the room, there’ll be no shortage of conversation in Mrs Fren’s class on Friday.
That’s because the Council seems incapable of allowing any progress at all when it comes to waterfront development and because of that the City could be at risk of losing a more than $100,000 Waterfront grant to install new docks.. So before we hear what councilors had to say, we need to give you a little background.. Last Monday we aired a K&J show detailing how councilors felt about the waterfront and the building.. you can find that on our website at WNBZ.com.. Basically, there’s a grant will pay for new docks at the Plattsburgh City Docks, BUT in order to receive the money, the council has to build ADA compliant bathrooms..
In order to make this happen, The City Engineer, Kevin Farrington has researched the best possible scenarios and is recommending that the building which was damaged in the floods three years ago be rejuvenated.. The cost of mold remediation will run about $17,000 and the cost to bring the building back up to speck so that it can be properly marketed for lease to a potential operator would require another $110,000.. Leasing the building once the work is completed would likely generate enough revenue for the city to allow for payback of the investment in 5 or 6 years.. And the City would also save on porta potty rentals every year for major events on Lake Champlain.. Councilman Paul O’Connell who has been in favor of the project from the start, has also stated in the past that a more welcoming waterfront will also put Plattsburgh higher on the rankings for fishing tournaments and other events which would bring more business to the region. The Council previously voted down allocating $30,000 to begin the project and on Thursday, two councilors sighting the need for answers in between every step of the project voted down a scaled down $17,000 version of the project.. After lengthy discussion they approved spending $4,000 just to do the research into how much mold there is.. But that’s it… Nothing else…. And just for comparison purposes.. The Council approved spending $120,00 on a new roof for the Fire Station at the same meeting.. So no bathrooms on the waterfront without step by step oversight from the council but the council seems content to allow the Mayor to manage the exact same procedure for the Firehouse Roof at 4 times the cost. Needless to say, Mayor Calnon wasn’t happy..
After the meeting, Mayor Calnon told the media there’s a difference between having input into a project and micromanaging it… He used the example of a rumor he sights that one of the councilmembers wants to start a sidewalk committee.. Councilor Paul O’Connell has voted in favor of the allocation every time is has been moved and we asked him for his thoughts.. “It’s a start, I voted for the $30,000 assessment and I voted in favor of the proposal which only focused on the mold.” O’connell said, “When the motion came just to approve the assessment and then return to the council for more discussion, I voted for that but it’s taking too much time and if this micromanaging continues, we’re not going to get anything done there.”
The vote by the way was actually a tie – Councilors Armstrong and Kasper were absent – and the mayor says because there wasn’t a majority the motion failed..
If the micromanaging at the City Docks continues, the council will lose the $100,000 Grant, no one will lease the building and there will be no bathrooms on the waterfront.. But every 4 weeks the council may approve $4 or $5 thousand dollars micromanaging mold remediation and refurbishing of the building at the City Docks.