Port Kent dry spell continues

PORT KENT The Port Kent water district still hasnt hit water or emergency funding. A public hearing to bond on the project costs was held prior to the Chesterfield Town Board Meeting on Jan. 8. Two people attended the meeting to discuss concerns. The $4.2 million water project still lacks a viable water source, despite drilling four wells. The town is under order by the Department of Health to replace the water source, since the shallow springs currently used are under the influence of surface water. The town plans another attempt to locate viable wells, since going to Lake Champlain as a source would require the construction of a filtration plant. Supervisor Gerald Morrow announced a grant request to cover $338,000 in emergency work during 2006 had been denied. Morrow, along with Councilman Joseph Kusalonis, visited Albany on Jan. 4 to speak to state officials about the hamlets need. We need to continue with this project because we are under the gun with the department of health, said Morrow. The project is going to be paid for with a $2 million grant, and the rest will be paid with a 30-year, no-interest loan. The project did not include the emergency work needed after the well ran dry in summer 2006. During the hearing, Resident Dana Rohleder asked if it would be feasible for the Port Kent district to purchase water from Keeseville, but Morrow said it would be cost prohibitive. Resident Anne Porter wondered if eminent domain might be used to take over a well on private property. Morrow replied that would be highly difficult, since there were many criteria needed for the town to use the process. A resolution to bond for $3.5 million in funding was passed unanimously during the regular board meeting. The town previously bonded for $1.2 million for the extension district. In other business: Morrow discussed the impact of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which has been a main concern at the Essex County board and throughout New York State. A recent directive has resulted in the counties throughout the state being required to offer ballot marking devices (BMDs) for each polling site. Chesterfield currently has three, with sites at the Port Kent Community Center, Chesterfield town office and Chesterfield Highway Garage. Morrow stated there had been some discussion on the county level about consolidating some of Chesterfield's polling sites as a cost-saving concern, but he opposed the move. He stated that the $7,000 that would be saved per site wasn't worth the cost of possibly disenfranchising voters who would resent having their traditional polling site closed. The decision to consolidate ultimately rests in the hands of county officials. Morrow said he would "fight tooth and nail" to keep Chesterfield's polling sites. The ongoing deed problems with the Estes House have been continuing. Morrow explained that the property, which Au Sable Chasm plans to donate to the town, is part of a lean that was taken out has tied the property up in red tape. The house will eventually be converted into a visitor's center. Morrow said he hoped the possibility of leasing the house until the loan expired would get around the deed issues, but was unsure if the towns already received grants would be usable in that case. The grant funding for the project has been extended through 2008. Morrow offered an update on the two bridge projects within the town. Construction is currently ongoing on the Soper Road Bridge, and the anticipation completion date is in May. The River Street Bridge, also known as Mill Hill Bridge, has had a study completed. Next up is finding a cost estimate and seeking grant funding for the project. The bridge is owned by Essex and Clinton Counties Morrow said the project for the River Street Bridge would be a restoration, due to the bridges historic nature. He said it was possible up to 80 percent might be funded through grants. The town is seeking two community members to appoint to the Keeseville Youth Commission. The regular meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 5 was rescheduled to Thursday, Feb. 7 due to the presidential primary.

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