MASSENA Town and village leaders will have legal assistance as they review the New York Power Authoritys 2003 relicensing agreement at its 10th anniversary.
The Local Government Task Force voted unanimously Wednesday night to appoint the Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke law firm of Washington, D.C., at a rate of $240 per hour, for a maximum of $3,500. The task force will pay for the firm through approximately $30,000 left over from the 2003 agreement held in the St. Lawrence County treasurers office.
Task force members have been discussing for the last several months the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 2003 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agreement, which enables NYPA to run the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project for 50 years. The agreement provided benefits to the host communities surrounding the power project.
Within the agreement was a provision: every decade, NYPA and the host communities could review and discuss issues not anticipated in 2003.
Massena Town Supervisor and Task Force Chairman Joseph D. Gray said the law firm will review the existing terms of the agreement.
They would be willing to do an initial review of the license as it stands, circumstances as they stand and any issues we might have, he said.
The law firm also will determine if NYPA has been fully compliant with terms of the 2003 agreement, Mr. Gray said.
Have things been done as they should have been done to this date? he said.
The firm also will advise officials on potentially negotiating new benefits for the region at the 10-year mark.
Thats why we need to have the law firm look into it, Louisville Supervisor Larry R. Legault said.
Are there other areas that werent addressed that would be appropriate? Mr. Gray asked.
Massena Mayor James F. Hidy said the law firms previous experience with NYPA-related issues made it a good choice. The firm was involved in some stages of the 2003 agreement. Other firms could cost more because they would have to get up to speed on the issues.
Theyre in tune with whats already going on, Mr. Hidy said.
Duncan, Weinberg may not be the only law firm task force members use. Massena Central School District Board of Education member Kevin Perretta said the group should look into retaining the law firm that helped Western New York leaders negotiate the Niagara Power Projects relicensing agreement several years ago.
Thats not something I think you should drop, he said.
Mr. Gray said many are often quick to criticize NYPA, and he pointed out some benefits the agency continues to provide the area.
On Tuesday, NYPAs board of trustees approved a $3.3 million contract to J.E. Sheehan Contracting Corp., Potsdam. The money will fund the construction of dikes and water control structures that will create the Nichols Hill Island Habitat Improvement Project at the western end of Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area in Louisville. The Nichols Hill project, one of 10 in the 2003 agreement, will stabilize water levels and protect a variety of fish and other wetland species, NYPA officials said in a Wednesday news release. The project will be completed in 2013.