Massena officials: Boat launch project will not hurt the environment; ramp, floating pier, deck planned
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 6:30 am

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA – Massena’s Village Board of Trustees Monday unanimously approved filing a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) stating that proposed renovations to the Springs Park river access improvements will not adversely affect the environment.

The Springs Park project will add a concrete boat ramp, a floating boat pier, an eight-foot by eight-foot elevated wooden deck, asphalt parking, five stalls to park trailer boats, and a waterfront trail to the fishing deck. It is not yet known when the work will start.

Village Public Works Office Superintendent Hoss Fayad noted that the village, which is acting as lead agency for writing the SEQR, had conducted a similar study with identical findings when the Springs Park bandshell was built just over a decade ago.

Alcoa “needed all the elements to be addressed,” Fayad said.

“It’s a park that’s existing, that’s why the negative declaration works for me,” Trustee Patricia Wilson said.

A document provided by village officials states all will be handicap-accessible as outlined in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Mayor James Hidy said he thinks the upgrades will fit with the ongoing Raquette River Corridor Blueway Trail Plan, an initiative to create boat and paddling routes along the 174-mile waterway.

“Massena is one of those places where we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Hidy stated.

The renovations are part of a $20.3 million settlement the federal and state governments, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe struck with Alcoa, Inc. and Reynolds Metals Company.

The aluminum manufacturers agreed earlier in the year to pay the sum to compensate “for injuries to natural resources, recreational fishing, and Mohawk culture resulting from the release of hazardous substances into the St. Lawrence River since at least the 1950s,” according to a March statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The hazardous chemicals include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aluminum, fluoride, and cyanide.

Of that total, roughly $2 million goes toward developing five boat launches with fishing access on the Raquette and Grasse rivers.