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Plan for Carthage infill housing project materializes

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CARTHAGE — The Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity plans to build six houses for needy families on a village lot abandoned by a manufacturing plant in 1990.

The former Braman Manufacturing Co. property is located along Alexandria Street and owned by the Carthage Industrial Development Corp., which bought the 4-acre parcel in 2010. The village demolished the long-vacated plant in 2007.

Collaborating to plan the infill housing project are the village of Carthage, CIDC and Development Authority of the North Country. On Friday, DANC’s board of directors will vote on a proposal to pitch in $25,000 toward sewer and water infrastructure needed at the site, matching a $25,000 contribution from the CIDC. To assist Habitat with construction costs, the board will also consider approving a $100,000 no-interest loan.

The funds will be used to extend existing sewer and water infrastructure at the site to provide access to houses, said James W. Wright, DANC’s CEO. The authority has previously assisted Watertown nonprofits with similar infill housing projects, he said, including Neighbors of Watertown and Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as Watertown Trust.

“This is the kind of partnership that we think will also be beneficial to other municipalities,” Mr. Wright said. “It enables us to use the concepts of smart growth and sustainable planning. We’re not breaking ground on new green space, which increases costs, and we use utilities that are in place.”

Habitat hopes the project will be approved this fall and break ground by late 2014 or early 2015, board President Walter H. Plumley said. The site plan for the project has yet to be developed. It generally costs the nonprofit between $70,000 to $90,000 to build each house, and much of that funding will come from businesses and donors in the village. A large number of volunteers will also be sought for construction.

“We could feasibly build two houses a year,” he said. “But it will depend on the volunteer force that we have and how much work has to be done on site. Our goal would be to involve the whole community.”

One option for Habitat could be to build modular houses at the site with assistance from carpentry students at the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services Charles H. Bohlen Technical Center, Mr. Plumley said.

Long in the making, the project was first considered by the nonprofit’s board after the former Braman plant was demolished in 2007. Habitat actively pursues projects at infill sites, Mr. Plumley said, because they also benefit municipalities by placing properties back on the tax roll.

“A lot of the infill building is on lots that no one wants to build on, or that have become abandoned and are delinquent in taxes,” he said. “Every lot that we develop and put back on the tax roll benefits municipalities, so they’re very eager to work with us. In this case, six lots will be generating taxes for the village of Carthage.”

The Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity now has openings for board members and is seeking volunteers to complete office work behind the scenes, Mr. Plumley said. Volunteers are also needed to serve during the weekends on housing projects.

Call 785-0308 for more information or visit www.tiahabitat.org.

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