Otis Mountain Bridge issue ends up in court

Homeowners around the Otis Mountain bridge oppose the countys plan to replace the bridge, citing the bridges historic nature and cost of the project. The county approved plans to replace the bridge with a new structure that could bear 15 tons. Property owners Harry Gough and Margaret Bartley filed an Article 78 suit on March 14 against the county in state Supreme Court to stop the project. Our suit charges that the county refused to file the required New York State Environmental Reviews for building a new 40 ton bridge over the Boquet River, and that they ignored the State Historic Preservation Office, which denied Essex County the right to tear down the Historic Otis Bridge. The 1914 Otis Bridge is listed on both the New York State and National Inventory for Historic Bridges, said Bartley. An injunction was placed on the project until April 13. Part of the controversy is due to the cost of the project. The county believes renovating the existing bridge to meet standards to bear 10 tons would cost substantially more than replacing it $700,000 versus $300,000. Yet an architect hired by the home owners association estimated the repairs could be done for $200,000. A country-wide petition is being circulated. Copies may be obtained by e-mailing otismountain@aol.com or calling 873-9225. We encourage all citizens to ask questions about how their tax dollars are spent, contact their elected representatives and attend public meetings, said Bartley. County board chairman Noel Merrihew said he was unable to comment on the issue. Because it has entered litigation, Im not at liberty to discuss it until its resolved, said Merrihew.

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