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Canton seeks funding for pedestrian bridge to Maple Hill Properties

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CANTON — Depending on whether state grant funding comes through, town officials are poised to move forward with a proposed $2.5 million pedestrian bridge project that would link Bend in the River Park with Maple Hill Properties, Route 11.

The project also is contingent on cooperation from the village board, which would have to agree to extend village water and sewer service to Maple Hill, a 72-acre lot co-owned by developers Ted L. Lawrence and Brian W. Staples.

Town Supervisor David T. Button said the project could help spur the development of new homes and businesses in Maple Hill, which would help boost the property tax base for both the town and the village. The property is within the village limits and zoned both residential and commercial.

“We want to encourage home growth in our community,” Mr. Button said Tuesday. “When the village grows, the town grows.”

At its meeting Monday, the Town Council is expected to direct Economic Development Director Linda M. McQuinn to apply for grant funding through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program. The application deadline is June 11, and the town expects to find out by December if it’s successful.

Last year, the town unsuccessfully sought grant funding for the bridge through a state Transportation Enhancement Project grant, but Ms. McQuinn said the town’s application scored well.

The lack of village water and sewer service may deter some developers and homeowners from purchasing parcels in Maple Hill Properties because they don’t want to be dependent on well water, Mr. Button said.

The project includes developing a public picnic area along riverfront property the village owns on Maple Hill.

Mr. Button said improving community access to water is a top priority in the Canton Community Action Plan.

Ms. McQuinn said the actual bridge would cost an estimated $1.9 million, while extending water and sewer service would cost an estimated $580,000. She said the grant would cover 80 percent of the bridge construction, but wouldn’t cover any portion of extending water and sewer service. The municipalities would be required to fund 20 percent of the bridge and all of the cost of extending utilities to Maple Hill.

Village Trustee Daniel McDonnell, who serves on the Canton Waterfront Advisory Committee, said he supports the town’s decision to apply for the grant and thinks the potential benefits may outweigh the cost to taxpayers.

It’s been estimated that if 1.5 homes are built each year at Maple Hill, the village tax levy will increase by $144,000 by 2024, he said. Other revenue could come from potential taxpaying businesses.

Although the grant is designed to encourage people to walk or bike instead of driving, Ms. McQuinn said economic benefits also are taken into consideration.

Separate from the pedestrian bridge project, the Waterfront Advisory Committee is studying the idea of constructing an underpass walkway beneath the Main Street bridge to connect Heritage Park on Coakley Island with Canton Park. That project would cost an estimated $170,000. Both projects were studied by the Barton & Loguidice, a Syracuse engineering firm.

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