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Fort Covington highway super wants money to fix town barn

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FORT COVINGTON - After a heated discussion about working conditions in the town’s highway garage, the Fort Covington Town Board opted to allocate $88,240 in casino compact funds toward establishing a farmer’s market.

The prospective market will go in by the old Gulf station in the hamletn and is expected to include a pavilion, paved parking, a possible canoe and kayak launch and maybe even electricity and a public restroom.

Supervisor Patricia Manchester had some hard figures for the farmer’s market, but discussion didn’t get too far past the pros and cons of a public restroom before Highway Superintendent Gerard Leroux took issue with the plan.

“We upgraded this shack for $200,000; you could afford to put $100,000 in that garage so we could heat it,” Mr. Leroux said, noting upgrades made at the town hall. “I mean we use that seven days a week.”

Mr. Leroux said he had been asking the town board for upwards of 18 years to at least move the entrance at the town garage to the opposite side of the building in order to combat wind chill. He explained that he had gotten together some time ago with the town’s engineer, John Carr, on the matter, but without board approval a project never went forward.

“Spend it wherever you want, but the garage is going to be around a lot longer than some of this other stuff is going to be,” Mr. Leroux said. “We seem to have all kinds of money for shops around town and this and that, and I’m all for fixing up the town. But we’ve got to fix up the existing things.”

The board agreed that the issue was something that warranted looking into, although Councilman David Russell asked whether it was worth investing money in the garage when the building may be literally sinking into the ground.

“I think before we say a cent we need John to look at it,” Mr. Russell said. “To me it looks like its sinking.”

The board requested that a surveyor take a look at the property and told Mr. Leroux to discuss the issue with Mr. Carr before they make a commitment to the property.

“Gerry, come on,” Councilman Paul Lauzon said. “We’re been pretty good to you. Play ball here.”

Mr. Leroux conceded that the board has done a lot for the highway department, but when it specifically comes to the garage building, nothing has been updated since they installed new furnaces –– which hasn’t helped much to keep highway workers warm when they open the garage for the trucks several times a day. All the heat goes out with them. Mr. Leroux said there are even items in the garage that are often frozen to the floor.

The issue was put to rest with the promise that the board would return to it when more information about the state of the property was available. Until then, Fort Covington will be submitting a plan to the state to build a new farmer’s market with their compact money.

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