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Village to borrow up to $300,000 to make repairs to Aluminum Trail footbridge

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MASSENA - The village board has voted to borrow up to $300,000 to make repairs and renovations to the Aluminum Trail footbridge.

The project is also being paid for with the assistance of $1,153,800 in grant money from the United States Department of Transportation.

The decision to borrow money comes after months of discussions about what to do with the footbridge and years after the original plans for the Aluminum Trail were derailed.

“The Department of Transportation would like to see us go to bid as soon as possible,” said Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad.

Mr. Fayad also said that while the contribution isn’t yet in writing the New York Power Authority has agreed to contribute $185,000 to the cost of the project, lowering the village’s anticipated contribution, which may also include in-kind services, to $342,200, $57,600 of which has already been paid.

That leaves the village in need of $284,600 to complete the bridge repairs.

Village Treasurer Julie A. Sharlow noted that the village had already been approved for a loan of up to $300,000 for the project.

“I would say we need it right away,” Mayor James F. Hidy said.

Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld asked whether Mr. Hidy considered NYPA’s contribution to the project guaranteed money.

“I would say yes,” the mayor replied.

Trustee Patricia K. Wilson noted that with $288,000 already spent on the project it was either borrow the money needed to complete it or lose the investment made thus far.

“It’s either pay the $230,000 back or borrow the money and get the project completed,” she said.

Mr. Ahlfeld agreed, “We have already sunk a lot of money into this project. I would rather spend the money and get something than spend half of the money and get nothing.”

While he did vote in support of borrowing the money needed to repair the bridge, Trustee Francis J. Carvel said he hopes a valuable lesson was learned from this experience.

“This just goes to show you just because you get a grant for a project doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing,” he said.

The project originally included a trail leading to and from the footbridge, as well as repairs to the span. The project is now simply repairing the footbridge, with some work on the bridge approaches on both sides.

The lone no vote came from Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies.

“What are you doing?” he asked.”We’re replacing a foot bridge? Why do we have to make it wide enough for a car to go over. That’s ridiculous,” he said, referring to the proposed renovations.

Ms. Wilson suggested that possibly some in-kind services from Alcoa could also help lower the costs of the project.

Mr. Hidy also said the village was going to continue pursuing grant opportunities to help fund their remaining share of the project.

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