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Sun., May. 24
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Deferiet seeks Blankenbush’s help in reclassification of park

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DEFERIET — Village officials are seeking help from Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush to reclassify the former ballpark on Route 3A in order to construct a water tower there.

Mayor Robert J. Foster met with Mr. Blankenbush, R-Black River, and town of Wilna Supervisor Paul H. Smith on Tuesday to discuss the village’s dilemma: it wants to put a needed new water tower on the site, but needs legislative help to make that happen.

By law, in order to convert parkland, a parcel of equal or greater value and size must be substituted.

The park, a baseball diamond formerly owned by the St. Regis Paper Co., has not been used in five years, according to Mr. Foster.

The village acquired the park 10 years ago, the mayor said. However, since Little League games now are played on the Carthage and West Carthage fields, the Deferiet field no longer is used, not even for practice.

Mr. Foster said that when he came into office, the field was mowed in 2008, 2009 and half of the 2010 season even though no one used it.

He said the village is small and there is no land to purchase to build on or to designate as parkland. In addition, the village has four other park areas and a baseball field that are used by residents.

Last session, the issue was brought before both houses and passed in the Senate but was denied in the Assembly.

Mr. Foster proposed during Tuesday’s meeting that the park to be built on Route 3 at the former Crown Cleaners site in Herrings be considered a replacement park, since the needed water tower will be part of the system to serve Herrings too.

Following the meeting, Mr. Foster said he was satisfied.

“Assemblyman Kenneth Blankenbush and Wilna Supervisor Paul Smith seemed very supportive of trying to move this forward, but we have two kinks to work out. We hope to have a site for the water tower by next June,” the mayor said.

He said first the former Crown Cleaners site must be made into a usable park area. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is cleaning up the site, which was contaminated from use as a dry cleaning facility and a paper bag manufacturer.

A majority of the Assembly must be convinced that the parkland swap is legitimate, Mr. Foster said.

“The site is 1.8 miles away but within town limits,” he said. “We would be trading four and a half acres of parkland for nine plus.”

In order to proceed, the town and village must resolve to enter into a joint agreement that must be submitted to Mr. Blankenbush before he resubmits the bill to the Assembly.

“We looked at why the bill failed,” said Brian Peck, an aide to Mr. Blankenbush. “We are looking into the possibilities at the town level instead of within the village. We are exploring options to move this forward.”

He said Mr. Blankenbush “looks forward to resubmitting this at the beginning of the year with the best legislation possible to give it the best chance of passing.”

If the conversion of parkland is approved, the village would partition off the property and sell what is not needed for the water system to develop commercial business along the Route 3A corridor.

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