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Sun., Dec. 28
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Good things happening in the north country

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To The Editor:

I take great interest in the recent announcement that a bill sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie and co-sponsored by Assemblywomen Addie Russell will be presented to the New York State Legislature transferring control of over 160 acres of unused real estate located on the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center grounds from the State to local hands. Giving it to the city will make it available to be on the tax roll and also generate some additional, much-needed jobs in St. Lawrence County.

The initiative would allow the local community to solicit bids from developers so the property can be put in private hands for development. The development would increase our tax base and would create seed money for a revolving fund that would then be used to assume ownership of more unused Office of Mental Health land.

Existing buildings that have been left in a state of disrepair could be renovated or deconstructed using the revolving fund, thereby continuing the process of selling the property to private entities that will improve the grounds, increasing the tax base and generating monies to continue the revolving fund so that the whole unused portion of the campus can eventually be developed.

We should all commend both of our state representatives for initiating and supporting this important legislation that enables the development of this prime real estate within the city of Ogdensburg.It is gratifying to see both Senator Ritchie and Assemblywoman Russell working collaboratively to strengthen the economic viability of the north country.

The SLPC Task Force is proud to have played a small part in this endeavor. Getting property back on the tax roll is good for everyone. Hopefully it generates new and greater opportunities.

St. Lawrence County legislators unanimously approved a resolution of support drafted by county Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot and co-sponsored by Legislators Sam Burns and Mark Akins.

Great things can and will happen in the north county when partisan politics are set aside and everyone works for the common good of all people of the north country.When we are talking about all the people we are talking about St. Lawrence County and the adjacent counties. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made his decision to rename SLPC as the Children’s Behavioral Health Center of Excellence for the North Country. He also said there would be some changes in the number of adult beds at SLPC and additional out patient beds would be located in the area.

Let’s keep the governor’s goal in mind as we move forward.It’s all about continuing quality patient care at SLPC and creating additional jobs here in the north country.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the decision to continue the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center because when he met with the task force he could see that the task force members had done their homework and that the staff at SLPC had a long history of doing an excellent job for their patients. His goal was to make it even better. The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, under the leadership of CEO Patrick J. Kelly, Mayor William Nelson, the City Council and City Manager John Pinkerton and many people from upstate New York worked very hard on this project.

When Senator Ritchie first drafted the bill, I had asked that both she and Assemblywoman Russell work together to get this legislation approved through the Legislature. I am very pleased that they are working so diligently to make the exchange of property from the state to local interests a reality. I thank Senator Ritchie for proposing the bill and I thank Assemblywoman Russell for her strong support of the bill in the Assembly.

This kind of bipartisan support bodes well for future north country initiatives.

Chuck Kelly

Chairman

SLPC Task Force

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