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Discussion on Stateway Plaza connector road don’t yield concrete action

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Behind-the-scenes talks about building a connector road have been taking place between the city and the owners of Stateway Plaza.

City Attorney James A. Burrows has confirmed the two sides are “still in negotiations” about building a road through the plaza’s parking lot.

“There’s been discussions between lawyers, but there’s been no resolution,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Discussed for years, city officials have expressed a desire to connect Arsenal Street with Gaffney Drive, on the other side of the strip mall. In May 2012, Alexandria Bay developer Patrick M. Donegan, who owns City Center Plaza, urged the city to complete the connector road, insisting he could attract a big-box national retailer to his development near Interstate 81.

That spring, the city then met with plaza owners Ben Wygodny and Martin Wenger, both of Montreal, in hopes of convincing them that the new road would also help their strip mall.

During those discussions, the city proposed building the road closer to the main plaza building, while the owners voiced concerns about the loss of parking if it was done that way. It would be called Western Boulevard.

The talks have been so hush-hush that City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said that he had not heard anything about the project in several months and did not know when the plaza owners were last contacted.

“It could happen tomorrow or it could never happen,” he said.

Put on the back burner for years, city officials were, at one point, lukewarm with the concept because of its cost. The most recent projection came up at $1.75 million. But that price could increase if the project is changed.

The city had proposed a 1,400-foot-long, three-lane connector that would curve around the parking lot and link to Commerce and Gaffney drives at the other end. Plans also could include demolishing a small, unoccupied structure at the back of the property near the church.

The city would have to negotiate a price to acquire some land in the parking lot for it to proceed.

If it fails to negotiate a price, the city could obtain the needed land through eminent domain.

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