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Days may be numbered for Keeseville Civic Center

KEESEVILLE - A proposal to shut down the Keeseville Civic Center is sparking heated debate among village residents and officials.

The village of Keeseville held budget workshops April 5 and 6, reviewing a proposed 2010-2011 budget that includes plans for the village to close the Civic Center Oct. 1 and move its offices to another village-owned building.

The proposal is aimed at cutting expenses and reducing the tax burden within the village, but not all are welcoming it with open arms.

The Keeseville Civic Center, which was built in 1936 as the former Keeseville Central School, has housed the village offices since the mid-1980s. It has also served as a satellite office for the New York State Police, meanwhile, and space there has been leased or rented to a variety of civic organizations.

If the Civic Center were to close, those organizations would all need to find new spaces. Some have expressed concern about what effect a reduced police presence could have in the village and what might happen to the historic building if it's left cold and empty.

Burning money

"It's a building that's just not generating the revenue to keep it going," said village mayor Meegan Rock.

According to Rock, the village spends roughly $70,000 each year to operate the Civic Center while taking in less than $20,000 in rent from the organizations housed there.

One renter, the Adirondack Architectural Heritage, announced April 6 that they will vacate the building after this month, reducing rent revenues by another $5,000 annually.

"We knew that was coming for a while," she said, "but it is what it is."

The $55,000 annual operating loss represents about nine percent of the town's general fund appropriations and does not include costs to repair the aging building, which Rock said "continues to deteriorate due to decades of neglect and disrepair."

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