Waterfront project completion applauded

ROUSES POINT The villages waterfront has a new look thanks to the completion of a major waterfront development project. Village officials, political dignitaries and those close to the project gathered last Friday to cut the ceremonial ribbon at the newly-constructed Montgomery Street Pier and scenic pavilion. The structures were part of a more than $1 million project which also included the development of a shoreline walkway and improvements to the neighboring village boat launch. Mayor George A. Rivers noted much hard work and cooperation went into the project to transform what was largely an abandoned stretch of shoreline on Lake Champlain into a site that will provide years of enjoyment for our residents. The village of Rouses Point has always had a beautiful waterfront, said Rivers. In recent years, public access to the waterfront has been lost. Through years of perseverance and the help of many friends, we have now reclaimed the waterfront for the public and made it the pride of Rouses Point. During the development of the project, which began with a slow start in 1997, the village endured some dark days, said Rivers. In October 2005, the same month a draft of the downtown and waterfront revitalization plan was presented, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals announced it was closing the doors of its manufacturing facility in the village after 70 years in business. There were some questions if the village should continue the revitalization effort, but the board showed its leadership by choosing to continue the process that had begun, said Rivers. The confidence in the project exhibited by the board, the mayor said, was justified when in 2006, an announcement from Wyeth stated the company would maintain a presence in the community and earlier this year, when it was announced Akrimax Pharmaceuticals had acquired the facility, essentially saving more than 800 jobs. Wyeths commitment, Rivers added, was evident in the companys support of the project. Most recently, Wyeth donated $75,000 to the village which funded the remainder of the pier construction cost, essentially completing the waterfront development project at no cost to taxpayers, he said. Such a feat is unheard of, said community development consultant Melissa McManus. However, due to the determination of those on the projects steering committee and the open line of communication between the village and state agencies, the dream of the development became a reality, she said. Not so long ago, if you traveled down Montgomery Street, you would have seen the dominant feature of our waterfront was an old state dock, said McManus. Luckily, for our village, for about the past decade, there have been people that have had a vision to see beyond what was to what could be. The long, arduous planning process often left people asking if the development would ever happen, McManus said. However, once the key people were in place from government leaders to assisting not-for-profit organizations and design firms, the process began to take off, leading the question to change from if it would happen to when. If you spend much time in government I guess in business, too, these days you hear the word partnership thrown around a lot, that things dont happen without partnership, said McManus. In Rouses Points case, its very true. This waterfront that youre looking at, was way beyond the reach of a little community like ours ... The result of all your efforts and all the funding from the agencies and the support from our representatives is really a legacy that will bring years of enjoyment to our residents and to our visitors. Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, said in a recent conversation with Secretary of State Lorraine Cort_V_uez, she testified to the importance of a commitment from the state level to the success of projects like the Rouses Point waterfront development. I told her that every dollar the state invested in the village of Rouses Point along this waterfront is a dollar the state cant get any better mileage out of, said Duprey. I truly believe this is only the beginning. Rivers confirmed that as he said the village is examining extending the shoreline walkway along the remainder of Montgomery Street to the intersection of U.S. Route 2 next year. In addition to Dupreys remarks, Cathy Hollinshead, a representative from the office of state Sen. Elizabeth OC. Little, R-Queensbury, and Andrew Labruzzo, coastal resources specialist with the Department of States Division of Coastal Resources, also commended the project in which their offices were credited with playing a vital role.

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