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Massena Town Council considers sale of riverfront property

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MASSENA — The Massena Town Council is considering selling property at the Massena Intake and Massena Point that the town received from the New York Power Authority a decade ago.

Supervisor Joseph D. Gray at the council meeting Wednesday discussed selling 67 acres near the Massena Intake and about 90 acres at Massena Point.

Councilman John F. Macaulay said the town first should have the land appraised to determine its fair market value. He said he also would like the town to work with a Realtor.

“We should list that property now,” Mr. Macaulay said. “There’s no reason we couldn’t try to carve land out.”

More than 300 acres of land formerly held by NYPA was returned to the towns of Massena, Louisville, Lisbon and Waddington at no cost as part of the 2003 relicensing of the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, but little has been done with those parcels. Officials blame a lagging property market and a general hesitancy throughout the region toward making large investments during uncertain economic times.

Any kind of development along the St. Lawrence River has been a long time coming, Mayor James F. Hidy said.

“I just can’t imagine how NYPA owned all these properties along the St. Lawrence River. We’ve been basically in Massena landlocked for all these years,” Mr. Hidy said. “People like to gravitate toward the water. And you’ve had your thumbs on these properties for years and years and years. Hopefully, this is the start of lightening up a little bit.”

According to a study completed by a consulting firm retained by NYPA in January 2011, nine parcels of property along the shores of Waddington, Louisville and Massena are best suited for a marina or other large-scale commercial development.

The study evaluated land currently or formerly owned by NYPA in the three towns on the St. Lawrence River. Its conclusions are meant to show the towns in which parcels would be the easiest for “shoreline development,” proposals that could include a marina, commercial dock or restaurant.

The nine parcels are on or near Whitehouse Point and Whittaker Park in Waddington, on Mutton Ridge and adjacent to the Lake St. Lawrence Yacht Club in Louisville, and near the Massena Water Intake and Robert Moses State Park in Massena.

Mr. Gray suggested last week that the Town Council explore possible recreational uses for the property.

Because “we’re not in a hurry to sell the property ... we should consider if that land has some alternative use,” he said. “It could be used to benefit tournaments or other functions that may be held at the intake.”

Mr. Gray noted that an annual fishing tournament is held at the intake by the New York chapter of the BASS Federation, and said that the property near the intake could be used as a staging ground.

Mr. Gray suggested the town reach out to NYPA for support in building a structure that could be used for the BASS tournament and other functions.

Also discussed was a piece of land at Massena Point. Mr. Gray told the council there was past interest in the property. “People who aren’t from the area see (Massena Point) and say, ‘This is gorgeous,’” he said.

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