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Waddington Supervisor responds to letter

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WADDINGTON – A letter signed by “Concerned Residents of Waddington” was sent to the Town Council this week outlining its opposition to the recent development proposals made at September’s town board meeting.

The letter, which was submitted to the Town Council and Northern New York Newspapers by Waddington resident Anthonty Zeledon, states the proposals would be “transforming to the community,” specifically the campground at Leishman Point.

At issue is are plans by G2G Inc. owners Rebecca A. and Jeffery A. Gerrish, Potsdam, to develop Leishman Point and the nearby River Road parcels into a four-season campground and renovate the historic Clark House into a hotel and conference center.

Council members have said they are open to the proposals.

G2G Inc. also proposed a four-story, 60-room Country Hearth Inn & Suites in Potsdam, but that project was rejected due to lack of private investment.

Earlier this year, G2G had also proposed a 45,000-square-foot, 60-room economy class franchise hotel and conference center on Leishman Point, but canceled the idea due to lack of interest.

The letter said since the inception of the project several years ago, little has been done with the Clark House in the way of development, and that Town Supervisor Mark Scott was “instrumental in forging” the stalled project.

Mr. Zeledon refused Wednesday to say how many members “Concerned Residents of Waddington” has or whether it is an official, organized group. He declined comment for this article.

“The Clark House has not been finished because they lack the investment, and it will be necessary to complete the project,” said Mr. Scott. “The Gerrishes are interested in investing and operating the Clark House, which would be wonderful. But the Clark House is not on town-owned property. If the Clark House board wants to see that developed in a particular way, that’s decision to be made by their board.”

The letter refers to the Gerrishes’ campground proposal for Leishman Point as a “trailer park,” which would compromise the “security, the peaceful and quietness of our way of living as well as negatively affecting our home values.”

The project’s first phase would include the installation of 22 RV sites with full hook-ups, 22 campsites and 14 insulated cabins throughout Leishman Point and along the River Road. The project would also include a parking lot, concrete tent pad, and four restroom and shower facilities.

Mr. Scott said the town could earn 10 to 20 percent in revenue through the campground, Mr. Scott said.

“To call an RV campground a trailer park is not accurate,” Mr. Scott said. “The campground is very consistent with the character of the town. We already have a campground at Coles Creek State Park, three miles down the road. There are campers located across from the beach. I haven’t heard any complaints regarding their existence.”

The letter says Leishman Point is “one of the most valuable sites on this stretch of the St. Lawrence.”

“For the town supervisor to suggest this beautiful site be developed as a Trailer Park/ Campsite is both absurd and stupid,” the letter said. “It should be left undeveloped for the community’s enjoyment and until such a time that an appropriate proposal is forthcoming.”

Mr. Scott said the idea of campground came out of a public meeting, in which community members were invited to vote on development ideas for the property on Leishman Point and the River Road, as part of the town’s strategic economic development plan.

“This is not something that I decided on my own,” he said.

The proposals, the letter states, “do nothing to improve tax revenues. On the contrary, they appear likely to have the opposite effect because they are so poorly thought through.”

Mr. Scott said taxes will not increase if the campground comes to fruition.

“Entering into a concession contract with someone to run the campground, the town would collect a percentage of revenue,” Mr. Scott said. “So the risk is minimal, while the benefit is large.”

Mr. Scott said he would be happy to speak with any residents who have concerns. They may email him at waddington.supervisor@gmail.com or call 388-4346.

The next Town Council meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the Hepburn Library Community Room, 30 Main St.

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