Town, village at odds over Trudeau annexation process

—  Harrietstown Town Board members Thursday, Sept. 27 waited for Saranac Lake Village Trustee Paul Van Cott to show up at their regular meeting and ask questions about annexing Trudeau Institute into the village, but he never showed up.

Earlier in the day, Van Cott emailed a letter to the town — copying Village Board members and the media — inquiring about a potential annexation meeting and charging that the town is dragging its feet on the issue.

“I had planned on speaking tonight at the Town Board meeting but see that there is no opportunity for public comment on the agenda,” wrote Van Cott, a Democrat who supports Village Trustee Tom Catillaz (D) in the town supervisor’s race against Town Councilman Bob Bevilacqua (R). “This communication is not intended to be political and is, as such, directed to the entire Town Board.”

A quick reply came from the town’s email address simply stating, “We allow public comment at the start of every Town Board meeting.”

And they do, but someone who doesn’t regularly attend Town Board meetings might get the impression that they don’t, as “public comment period” is not written anywhere on the agenda like it is on Village Board agendas.

Deputy Supervisor Barry DeFuria admitted that “public comment period” should be written on the agenda but added that the Town Board has been offering a public comment period at least since he’s been on the board in 1998.

Needless to say, DeFuria and other board members did not address the letter during the meeting; however, they defended their position on the annexation process when asked by local media after the meeting. And DeFuria was not pleased by Van Cott’s letter.

“If he ever sends me one like that again, although he’s indicated that it wasn’t political, and I don’t understand why if it’s not political he would send it to (the media), if he does something like that, it will be political,” DeFuria said.

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