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St. Lawrence County legislators favor GIS project funding

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators have agreed to participate in a grant application organized by the Development Authority of the North County that would put regional communities on the kind of map developers prefer.

DANC is applying for up to $1 million through the state Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency grant program to improve the region’s Geographic Information Systems.

GISs are computerized data networks that capture and analyze geographic information.

The grant would fund the acquisition of Light Detection and Ranging Data for parts of Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. LiDAR plots out topography to include elevations.

“That’s very useful,” DANC Director of Engineering Carrie M. Tuttle told legislators in a recent presentation. “There’s a big black hole in the north country. The engineering firms are looking for this data.”

Collecting LiDAR is costly but has a big payback, Ms. Tuttle said. The grant money also would be used to develop a regional map viewer for the public and more detailed data for clients.

If the grant were awarded, DANC would pay the bulk of the 10 percent co-share at $54,310. “The authority would be using all of this data anyway,” DANC CEO James W. Wright said.

To pay for the LiDAR, Jefferson County would contribute $16,855, Lewis County $9,995 and St. Lawrence County $18,460.

“We want everybody invested,” Mr. Wright said. “For $18,000, you get almost a million dollars worth of data. Not a bad deal.”

LiDAR would exclude Fort Drum and the Adirondack Park, which drew the attention of Legislator Scott M. Sutherland, R-Pierrepont, who voted against the county funding. “I don’t think it’s right to leave that out,” he said.

The grant is capped at $1 million. Much of the park cannot be developed because it is owned by the state, Ms. Tuttle said. “There’s a lot of trees,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of infrastructure.”

Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb, who voted for the project, said he too was troubled by the park’s exclusion, especially since the county owns the 54-acre former Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. property in the town of Clifton, which is one of the few industrially zoned parcels inside of the Blue Line.

Including the park would cost more than $500,000, Ms. Tuttle said. North country towns within the park might be included in a later funding round, Mr. Wright said.

Legislators approved an amendment suggested by Mr. Morrill urging the Adirondack Park Agency and DANC to seek additional money for the park.

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