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Watkins reviews construction project

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Village Board discussed several issues regarding the Seneca Harbor Place lakefront housing project along with approving several payments at their meeting Monday, Dec. 7.
A letter was sent to the board asking if the west entrance of the project could be used as a temporary main entrance during construction.  The board found that using this entrance would not affect the village, because it is on county property.  “I have no problem with it, but I don’t know if I have any authority either,” Mayor Judy  Phillips said.  
The board agreed to send a return letter stating that they have no problem with the new entrance, but they will fully enforce the five ton weight limit on village roads.  The village will not allow tractor trailers to travel on Porter Street, because it is a family street and will detour them to Decatur Street.  
Trustee William E. Smagner also brought up another issue regarding the Seneca Harbor Place construction project.  It has been asked that the $16 million project be tax exempt.  According to Donna J. Beardsley, village clerk, “it was placed on the record that we objected to what was presented to us.”  The village’s lawyer has also been asking for specific tax information to wrap up a formal objection.  
If the exemption for the entire project is approved, “taxpayers are going to take a heck of a hit,” Trustee Smagner said.  The board is looking into receiving more information about the whole project, and will possibly enact a small tax for a short amount of time, but will not place a major hit on taxpayers.  
The village has recently received the lease agreement for the shared services building.  Another $1.5 million will have to be borrowed to finish off the project.  The board agreed to use a 50 percent rule payment method, which will save the village $40 thousand.
The board approved to keep the manager of Clute Park, Micelle E. Hyde, in her current office at the park.  The cost to forward her phone line to the village offices would cost $700 and then another $700 to change it back.  Since the building is new and hasn’t gone through a winter yet the costs for heat need to be evaluated.  Members of the board predict that heating costs to keep the Clute Park office open will be less than forwarding the phone line.  The board also discussed installing their own switch in the future to control the phone lines with a new fiber optic system.  “Just keep track of the bills,” Phillips said about the issue.  
New camping rate increases for 2010 were also approved by the board.  The new day rate will be $39, up from $38 in 2009.  The weekly rate will be $245 up from $240.  The monthly rate will be $675 up from $650 in 2009.  Rates for July and August will now be $700 up from $675, and the seasonal rate will now be $1,795 from $1,750 in 2009.  “This is a steal and a heck of a bargain,”  Smagner said, regarding that the village also pays for waste, water, sewer and electricity while campers are in the area.
The board also agreed to pay the annual SCOPED payment.  The $15,926 will be paid in the full amount, because they did pay the 2009 taxes, and the village is getting a percentage of the sales tax.  Mayor Phillips also added that SCOPED is trying to get a grant to help the community as a whole with waterfront development.

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