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Task Force says NYPA failed to keep its agreement

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WADDINGTON — The Local Government Task Force chairman says the New York Power Authority has not upheld its 2003 settlement agreement for relicensing the St. Lawrence-FDR Power project in Massena.

The settlement provided benefits to the communities surrounding the 63-year-old power project, including $16 million and 20 megawatts of hydropower, in lieu of the losses in taxable land.

Now, 10 years later, as NYPA and the task force review the agreement, local communities want to renegotiate its terms to extract more in compensation from the power entity. Just what they are demanding has not been made public.

Task force members claim the Power Authority has not kept its end of the bargain in terms of community projects and the sale of surplus land to municipalities and residents.

“There are provisions in all four towns that have not been completed,” Chairman Joseph D. Gray said at a task force meeting Wednesday night at the Waddington Municipal Building. “Some are in evidence of being in the works while others are not. This needs to be addressed. We plan to bring it up in the 10-year review before the end of the year.”

Several public entities are attached to the project: the town and village of Massena, the town and village of Waddington, the town of Louisville, St. Lawrence County and the Massena and Madrid-Waddington central school districts.

Mr. Gray said one of the projects yet to be completed is an access road to Wilson Hill, Louisville.

“Wilson Hill is a causeway and a second emergency access to Wilson Hill Island,” he said. “There is only one highway access route to it.”

Mr. Wilson said the wildlife refuge is also yet to be completed on the hill.

Donald J. Lucas, who owns Muskie Magic in Massena, said he offered to purchase surplus land at full market value to develop commercial dockage along the St. Lawrence River, but NYPA denied his request.

“We were told by the Power Authority that land would be sold to residents for commercial development, but that hasn’t happened,” Mr. Lucas said during the public comment session.

Mark Scott, town supervisor in Waddington, said the task force will make stipulations in its proposed revised agreement for commercial dockage.

The town of Lisbon, which signed itself out of the project boundary several years ago in exchange for surplus land, said the Power Authority has not yet returned land, including Galop Island in the St. Lawrence River.

Mr. Gray said more uncompleted projects will be outlined in the future.

“We have not finalized the list completely,” he said Wednesday. “We took another major step forward to doing that tonight. While everyone wants to know, it is not in the communities’ best interest for the public right now to know.”

Mr. Gray said he hopes to have the finalized list of conditions completed by next month.

“We have not yet corresponded with the Power Authority,” Mr. Gray said. “In the next week a letter will be sent to them. We’ll be ready for discussion.”

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