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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Deferiet finishes municipal building project


DEFERIET — Big projects are often sparked by small ideas that snowball. Mayor Robert J. Foster, who started making plans to improve the village’s municipal building four years ago, knows that well.

After four years of planning, finishing touches are now being made on the renovated municipal building, 68 Riverside Drive, which will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Memorial Day following the village parade at noon.

Approved by the village Board of Trustees last fall, the $450,000 capital project revamped the building’s gymnasium by adding five offices and a community room for board meetings, leaving half of the gym available for recreational activities. The building also has a new roof, two furnaces to make it more energy efficient, and new doors, windows and sidewalks.

Last fall, the village hired engineering firm Fourth Coast of Clayton for $68,000 to develop the project, which broke ground in February. The $450,000 loan for the project will be paid back by the village’s 126 households over 20 years. Effective this year, households will pay an average of $179 a year over that period for the project.

Village offices at the new administrative area include one shared by the village clerk, deputy clerk and historian; one shared by the mayor, treasurer and village committees, and one for public works and zoning officials. The village is making plans to lease the office to a labor union whose members work at Fort Drum.

Plans are for the village’s post office, at 43 Anderson Ave., to move to an office in the building. The post office was expected to close last year, but the plan changed when the Postal Service opted to cut back its operating hours instead. Mr. Foster, who described the post office building as dilapidated and unsafe, is lobbying to have the operation moved to the municipal building this summer.

“We’re hoping that this plan is still a go,” he said. “The ceiling at the building is caved in and leaking, and it’s not a safe space for workers or residents. Our village board decided that if the post office has to close, we want to maintain our identity by keeping it here.”

The large community room will be used for board meetings and will be rented out to residents for free. The second floor above the offices will include a storage area for village records.

The new furnace system and roof are expected to save the village money over the long term by cutting down on heating costs. While the village formerly paid about $40,000 a year for heating and lighting, it now expects to pay about $20,000.

To achieve more long-term savings, the village plans to spend about $20,000 this summer to install solar panels on the roof that will supply electricity to the building, as well as solar-powered streetlights. Funding left over from the renovation project will be used to purchase the panels, and the remaining cost will be drawn from the village’s general fund.

“The village is trying to go green, and the money we invest will be paid back in less than five years through savings in electricity,” Mr. Foster said.

Residents will have a chance to tour the building after the ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

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