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Cape Vincent expands Water District 6, adding properties that already have municipal water

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CAPE VINCENT — After learning they were somehow incorporated into a multi-million dollar public water project that they don’t need, brothers James W. and Ron J. Mason are considering annexing their Lake Street property into the village.

The Masons and several other town property owners near the village’s western boundary say they were lumped into the town’s expanded Water District 6, although they already draw water from the village as outside users.

“They want me to fund Millionaires’ Row — the stretch of $600,000, $700,000 houses on Tibbetts Point Road — and we’ve already got potable water. We don’t need to be included in this water line,” Mr. Mason said.

District 6 — which would serve more than 90 homes and the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse facilities — has been unable to secure outside funding because the average median income of its residents was too high.

“For the last couple times, we’ve been denied because of income,” Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey said at a recent Town Council work session, adding that a new income survey is now being mailed out to residents of the expanded district.

Although outside users of the village were not given the option to opt-out of Water District 6, Mr. Hirschey said, being part of the proposed project should benefit them in many ways.

Town workers will be reading meters and making repairs to the infrastructure if needed. Additionally, outside users would be paying a lower rate for municipal water than other District 6 residents and will no longer have to pay the village a minimum usage fee, town officials said.

“They’re going to have new meters and maybe some upgrades but not much. We use the same infrastructure in terms of the piping and so forth. So they shouldn’t pay as much,” Mr. Hirschey said.

Also, officials said, because fire hydrants would be installed along the water line, property owners would be paying less in home-owners insurance.

Ron Mason said he’d like to know exactly how this $2.8 million water project is supposed to cost him and his brother so they can decide whether to petition for annexation.

James Mason said he will not be responding to the survey just so the district can meet the $55,600 threshold to be eligible for grants or low-interest loans.

“They’re just trying to pick up as many properties to get the water district’s average median income down so they can apply for grants,” he said. “The grant is for people who don’t have potable water. We shouldn’t even be getting a survey.”

Mr. Mason also questioned whether the three town councilmen who own property in District 6 — Clifford P. Schneider, Brooks J. Bragdon and Mr. Hirschey — should even be voting on the issue as a public water project would likely benefit them financially by increasing their property values.

“As far as I know, a water district can’t charge some people one rate and other people a different rate,” James Mason said.

And to make things a bit more complicated, town officials said not all outside users that were added to District 6 will be paying a lower rate.

“Those people from County Route 6 have put in their own infrastructure and that infrastructure is old, it doesn’t meet code and that’s going to have to be replaced. So they will be on the regular rate because of the infrastructure costs,” Mr. Hirschey said.

Thomas K. Rienbeck, a former town supervisor and County Route 6 resident, said outside users never asked to be included and do not stand to benefit from the project.

“We didn’t request this to be done. They decided to add these users to make the project more affordable,” Mr. Rienbeck said. “If they want municipal water, they should pay for it rather than relying on us who have water.”

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