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LeRay set to acquire DANC grant for road project

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The town of LeRay will be one step closer to building an important road connecting Johnson and Taylor roads off Route 11 as the Development Authority of the North Country is slated to approve a $200,000 state grant for the project at its meeting Thursday, taking a chunk out of the estimated $2 million the town needs.

Originally, the mile-long extension to Johnson Road was going to be funded largely as a part of Albany housing developer Dawn Homes’s plan to build Jefferson Apartments on the property, but the developer abandoned that plan last month.

Now LeRay officials are busy looking for ways to fill the financial gap to still start the project this spring.

“I think this will build confidence in the town board to go ahead with the project,” town Supervisor Ronald C. Taylor said. “We still need additional funding sources, but this is going to help a lot. I think we should still be able to come up with the $2 million to do the project.”

Other funding sources the town has in play include a $500,000 state grant earmarked for housing and an infrastructure fund with about $1 million — money acquired from the RCI Housing project at Fort Drum.

Even with no developer now committed to building in the area, DANC views the road project as a top priority for housing development, said CEO James W. Wright. By connecting a loop off Route 11 that will link Jefferson Road, Taylor Road and Kestrel Drive, the road will be a boon for the hundreds of families living at Eagle Ridge Village.

“This (grant) is being driven by the fact that you have Eagle Ridge housing that’s been supported in its early phases by the Community Housing Rental Program Committee,” Mr. Wright said. “There’s a compelling need in the area for a second way to exit the site, and the town has planned for several years to move forward with that.”

Eagle Ridge Village will finish its fourth phase of construction this spring, adding 104 townhouses to bring the total to 648.

And the developer, Clover Construction Co. of Williamsville, in the Buffalo area, plans to kick off a fifth phase for the project in the fall to build an additional 39 four-bedroom townhouses.

The town board will review an updated engineering plan for the road project at its meeting in April, to be presented by town engineer Kris D. Dimmick, vice president of municipal engineering for Bernier, Carr & Associates.

The revised plan will remove former requirements for the project needed by Dawn Homes — including streetlighting, sidewalks and water systems — to make the project more affordable for the town.

“This will be an implementation plan that will give the town a clear picture of what they want to do for the project and see if anyone else will be available to help,” Mr. Dimmick said. “I still remain hopeful that we’re going to see dirt flying this construction season.”

Town officials have said another housing developer, American Fidelity Holdings based in Utah, could decide to build a 150-unit apartment complex where the new road would intersect Taylor Road, according to a report at the Town Council meeting in March from Steven T. Harter, administrative clerk to the LeRay supervisor.

The developer has committed to a $250,000 contribution to the Johnson Road project, Mr. Harter said, and is in negotiations with officials from the Community Rental Housing Program Committee.

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