More questions than answers on Affinity project
Monday, August 6, 2012 - 3:03 pm

To the Editor:

As a Potsdam taxpayer and “interested party,” I have been attending the meetings concerning the Affinity Potsdam Cottages project.

It seems to me that there are many questions and not all are being clearly answered.

First of all, why are taxpayer-supported agencies and positions being used to promote new, for-profit projects that compete with existing local businesses? The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency receives $425,000 per year from the county budget, as well as over $300,000 per year to “administrate” a settlement from the New York Power Authority relicensing agreement with local governments.

Secondly, will the SLCIDA and certain members of the Potsdam Central School Board continue to advocate for and request votes on “tax abatement,” “non-profit partnerships,” mortgage recording fee waivers as well as state and local sales tax exemptions for this, and other similar, for-profit ventures?

Third, concerning the “Affinity” project, what steps are being taken to deal with the safety issues of 300 more residents using Outer Main Street where the absence of sidewalks already results in walkers, runners and bikers using the roadway; where parking for soccer games is haphazard and uncontrolled; where lighting seems inadequate; and large drainage ditches limit the use of roadsides?

One answer given last evening at the Potsdam Planning Board by Village Board member Eleanor Hopke is that property owners along the one-half mile from where village sidewalks end can be required to install them with half the cost being paid by the village (taxpayers) and half by the property owner. The official answer is that “Affinity” would pay the full cost of installing sidewalks on their property; Main Street Apartments could be required to install theirs; a crosswalk would lead to Barrington Drive; and that pedestrians could use the sidewalks that are proposed in SUNY Potsdam’s five-year plan to access the village sidewalks.

Sidewalk installation costs $28.09 per linear foot for a 5-foot wide sidewalk. From the proposed Affinity site to existing sidewalks at the intersection of Grant Street and College Park Drive, the distance is approximately a half-mile, which means the cost of constructing new sidewalks in that area on one side of the street only would cost approximately $74,158. That doesn’t not include the cost of footbridges over drainage ditches, if needed.

It seems to me that the residents and taxpayers of Potsdam deserve clear, honest, direct answers to these questions and soon – before the next Potsdam town Board and Potsdam Central School Board meetings on Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Lucia D. Dailey, Colton, (owns land in Village of Potsdam)