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Lowville downtown corner committee getting reorganized

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LOWVILLE — With a downtown street reconstruction project almost completed, a nearly eight-year-old ad hoc committee is rekindling discussions on how to develop a long-vacant four-corners lot.

“It’s very exploratory at the moment,” said Dr. John R. Schlieder, a retired Lowville dentist who was named to the downtown corner committee after suggesting its formation in early 2005.

Some members of the committee recently spoke with the village Board of Trustees about once again actively seeking development of the lot at Dayan and South State streets, which was cleared by an October 1999 block fire.

Deputy Mayor Charles W. Truax Jr. and Trustee Joseph G. Beagle were named as liaisons to the committee, which has been dormant for several years as the state Department of Transportation worked through a Route 12 reconstruction project through the village.

“I’m interested in the possibility of something happening at the corner to make the community whole,” said Mayor Donna M. Smith, who served on the original corner committee before taking office.

Mrs. Smith said she is sick of seeing the lot still empty, especially given the amount of traffic that goes through the intersection.

“I think it’s something that could be magnificent for the village,” she said.

Original corner committee members Gordon H. Allen, Dorothy K. Duflo, James A. Randall and Roger G. Abbey plan to be involved in the group again, Dr. Schlieder said. Lewis County Director of Economic Development and Planning Eric J. Virkler, who assisted the original committee as then-village administrator, also will be part of the revamped group, he said.

Anyone else interested in being part of the committee is asked to call Dr. Schlieder at 376-2198.

Past suggested uses for the property have included private development, a parking lot and a municipal building, although the village has since moved its offices into the town building on Bostwick Street.

Dr. Schlieder in 2005 also developed a concept drawing of a small park on the corner.

Private development of the lot has been hampered over the years by its relatively small size. And the once 17,185-square-foot lot shrank considerably with the 2011 widening of Dayan Street and the addition of a turning lane at the intersection as part of the DOT project.

Route 12, the primary truck route between Watertown and Utica, follows Dayan Street onto South State Street. Tractor-trailers in the past had difficulty making the turn there, prompting the change.

The lot — once owned by six separate owners — is now down to 8,700 square feet owned by two different owners, along with a segment at the corner that was purchased by the state.

Some discussions have involved the possibility of marketing the corner property with the adjacent village parcel off Dayan Street on which its former municipal building sits, creating a larger plot on which development could occur.

That building has been used as DOT’s field office for the reconstruction project through a lease agreement with CCI Companies Inc., Canastota, which is undertaking the roughly $7 million project.

Village officials plan to explore options to sell the historic structure when DOT no longer has need of it, Mrs. Smith said.

The project, which began in fall 2010, is down to general wrap-up and punch-list items such as pavement marking and concrete sealing on the South State Street bridge deck, DOT spokesman Michael R. Flick said.

Those items, weather permitting, should be finished up by the end of the month, he said.

CCI over the past couple of years has used the vacant lot for storage of heavy equipment and construction materials, but workers recently cleared it in anticipation of wrapping up the project.

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