Officials respond to governor's State of the Upstate address

In the states first-ever State of the Upstate address, Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer discussed issues facing the state, specifically those facing the upstate economy. The governors proposal to create a $1 billion upstate revitalization fund garnered much attention when first mentioned in his State of the State address, delivered in Albany Jan. 3. In his most recent speech delivered in Buffalo Jan. 16, the governor gave further detail of the fund, which would support the creation of development-ready sites for commercial development and a strategic initiative to jump-start key projects poised for economic growth, known as City by City Plans. Funding would also cover several other initiatives, several of which were favored by Plattsburgh City Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak. Proposals by the governor to invest $100 in upstate housing and community development, another $100 million to support critical maintenance of state and local bridges, and another $80 million in improving state parks are ones Mayor Kasprzak said would be very beneficial and an investment for upstates future. An issue driven home by the governor regarding aggressively marketing upstate products and services to Canadians was one issue with which Mayor Kasprzak firmly agreed. Upstates success has always been tied to our Canadian neighbors and with the exchange rate as it is now, it is more important than ever to work, promote, and market with Canada across all of upstate, said Mayor Kasprzak. A few points made in the governors speech that struck a chord with Saranac Town Supervisor Joseph Gerardi were the governors desire to fortify water systems and fund maintenance of state and local bridges. That state funding could help the town, which will soon need to undergo expensive repairs and upgrading its water system, he said. Also, the Soper Road Bridge, which was recently closed by state engineers with no plans to restore it historically, could also benefit, Supervisor Gerardi noted. Converting parcels of land into development-ready sites is also something Supervisor Gerardi feels will benefit commercial development in the town and, ultimately, the taxpayers. [The governor] talked about getting land ready for development and we have an industrial park that has lain dormant for some years, said Supervisor Gerardi. The governor seems to have made the revitalization of upstate New York a priority and Im hoping little Saranac can be a part of the bigger picture. Since the governors address, Supervisor Gerardi said he has received word the governor will increase the amount Saranac receives through the states Aid and Incentives to Municipalities by five percent, something the supervisor feels is encouraging. In a statement issued by Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernard C. Bassett, the supervisor praised the governor for his recognition of the need to invest in the upstate economy, even during fiscally challenging times. Supervisor Bassett called the governors address historic and further proof the governor recognizes the economic importance of the North Country and our unique needs. We play an important role in the states economic growth and development, Supervisor Bassett stated. He acknowledged, as we know, that upstate is a, great place to live. The Town of Plattsburghs new partnership, to help revitalize the old North Country Shopping Center and adjacent property, is a great model of how we can work together to make a difference, the supervisor added, referring to a $2.5 million Restore New York grant recently announced for the town. While we are all concerned about the potential for a recession and a challenging economic picture in general, stated Supervisor Bassett, it appears that New York State is aggressively moving forward and that the Town of Plattsburgh will play a meaningful role in the effort to achieve a, livable sustainable community that offers opportunity, provides an enviable quality of life and retains our young people. Though there is question on how the upstate revitalization fund will be funded, officials such as Mayor Kasprzak are optimistic about what it could mean for the North Country. As mayor, I am pleased that the governor is familiar with the upstate problems and his attempt to address the many issues we are facing, Mayor Kasprzak said. New York State is dealing with financial challenges as is Plattsburgh and I hope we can work together to turn our economy in a positive direction. I do have a few concerns that the governors upstate revitalization plan has some funding questions, however, we will work closely with his staff to insure our needs are addressed.

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