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Potsdam begins work on parks and recreation district

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POTSDAM — The town has continued to plan its takeover of the Potsdam recreation program, proposing the creation of a special taxing district that excludes the village of Norwood.

The legality of such action has been in question since March, when village trustees voted to drop funding for recreation, leaving it to the town. Costs for the program had long been split evenly between the town and the village.

The central legal question was whether the town could create a taxing district to fund the recreation program without adding to the tax burden of those who live in Norwood, which has its own recreation facilities.

Apparently it can, according to Supervisor Marie C. Regan.

“We finally got some feedback from the comptroller’s office,” she said.

The state comptroller told the town it could create a parks and recreation district, encompassing all town properties except for those within Norwood. Taxpayers who live within the newly created district will pay for town parks, the salary of recreation employees and upkeep at the Pine Street Arena. Norwood residents will not, instead continuing to fund their own village recreation program.

Once the town has worked out a plan, it will hold public informational meetings to educate the community.

The proposal will have to go through a waiting period before it can become law. During this time, town residents will be able to vote down the creation of a district.

Mrs. Regan said she will begin work right away, mapping out the affected areas and starting to figure out the 2014 budget to incorporate the possible change.

“This means we need to start on the budget immediately,” she said.

The town does have some leeway. Village trustees voted in April to continue funding half of the recreation program through the end of 2014 if needed.

At a town board meeting Tuesday, officials discussed the fate of town residents who live outside Norwood but still use village recreation facilities. There are no simple answers, according to Mrs. Regan.

“Everybody thought this would be so easy. It’s not,” she said.

Meanwhile, the town will pursue state grants to renovate Pine Street Arena, which has fallen into disrepair.

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