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Shopping center owner: Massena needs Dick’s Sporting Goods


MASSENA - The developer who owns Massena’s Harte Haven Plaza said the space between the Massena Arena and Ponderosa is large enough for a Dick’s Sporting Goods but the current site of the arena annex would be needed for parking.

The plan calls for a 36,178 square foot store to be constructed behind Massena Arena on land described by Michael Wachs as not only unused, but not on the tax rolls.

The plan calls for the store to have 182 parking spots, many of which would be located where the arena’s outdoor rink is now.

“If Dick’s did in fact approve this plan, their building footprint would be situated on unused raw land and their required parking would replace the outside rink, which could be relocated,” Mr. Wachs said in a statement emailed to the Daily Courier-Observer with a copy of the plan.

While the land behind the arena is not on the tax rolls, it is currently used as soccer and softball fields by Massena youth programs.

David MacLennan, who chairs the Massena Joint Recreation Committee, said he’s surprised that land would be discussed as a potential location for such a large business.

“Off hand, I would say I’m surprised. That’s a pretty small spot to put a large sporting goods store,” he said. “I’m surprised that lot even came into question for putting a store there.”

Massena Mayor James F. Hidy said at this point a meeting needs to be scheduled with both the town and village boards to discuss whether to move forward with the proposal.

“It’s something that has to be talked about between the two boards,” he said, adding a sale of the land at any price isn’t a decision that either board could make on its own.

“It would have to be a joint decision agreed upon by the two boards,” he said.

When the proposal was discussed at Tuesday’s village board meeting, Mr. Hidy said the Michael Ward, who serves as assessor for the town, estimated the land was worth $800,000, citing the sale of other similar properties on Main Street and Route 37 in recent years.

At the time, Village Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld questioned that value.

Mr. Wachs agreed, “As to the suggestion that the value of this land is comprable to the values of properties which enjoy access from state Route 37 and Main Street, I can only repeat what Mr. Ahlfeld stated, ‘I don’t think so.’”

Mr. Wachs noted that while the plaza is located off state Route 37 the only access to the store would be through the plaza.

“We must remember that this land that is not only unused, but is not on the tax rolls,” he said. “Additionally, the project would not only protect the integrity and presence of the Massena Arena, it would enhance it.”

Mr. MacLennan said that while he has not seen Mr. Wach’s proposa, locating a business there could present some challenges.

“Those fields are used a lot,” he said. “I’m not sure what the availability is for the other fields.”

The loss of the fields for games though isn’t the only impact locating a store there would have.

“It would certainly have an impact on the arena with the moving and storage of equipment and snow removal,” he said.

Mr. Wachs, who has owned the plaza since 1987, said the plaza has seen its ups and downs, as has Massena, and the opportunity to bring a Dick’s Sporting Goods to Massena is one that cannot be passed up.

“It pains me to read that taxes are going up on Massena’s citizenry. It pains to me to read about job losses in the community,” he said. “As I have expressed to Mayor Hidy, I believe strongly that he and the members of his governing board and I share the same individual and collective obligation and civic responsibility to do all in our power to make these dreams for a better Massena a reality.”

Mr. Wachs said he first heard about the possibility of Dick’s Sporting Goods coming to Massena when he read about it in the Daily Courier-Observer last year when it was reported that the chain had signed a lease to locate a store the St. Lawrence Centre mall.

“To say that I was delighted would have been an understatement,” he said. “Anything... I repeat anything, that would bring jobs and positive energy to Massena is somethign I applaud.”

Since that time however, no progress has been made with construction at the mall, and Mr. Wachs said now he is stepping up to help ensure that Massena gets the store, even if it’s not at the mall.

“Unfortunately now almost a year and a half later this idea remains a dream. The mall remains unsold and the opportunity to bring the preeminent sporting goods retailer in America to Massena remains unfulfilled,” he said.

“What would it mean if Dick’s were to grand open in Massena? I believe it would be a gift to the community.. A gift in form of real jobs, construction jobs, retail jobs, and increased sales tax, which would have the corresponding positive impact on Massena’s citizenry, who are once again being asked to shoulder higher and higher taxes. Dick’s would create satellite jobs and be a source of new tax revenue for a community quite literally starved for them.”

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