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Waddington puts research facility project on hold

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WADDINGTON — The town has tabled an application for a grant that would allow it to develop a concept plan for sustainable power on Whitehouse Bay.

The town is considering partnering with the Sustainable Power and Applied Research Facility, which would work on developing and commercializing sustainable power and natural resource technologies.

The proposed research complex could range from 100,000 to 150,000 square feet, with 50 to 100 academic, professional and support personnel on site within three years of opening.

With a price tag of $50,000, a concept plan to develop Whitehouse Bay would require a $12,000 match from the town, which would come from its New York Power Authority savings account.

The savings account, which was set up following the 2003 relicensing agreement for the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, has a balance of $30,000.

The Town Council received notice of the grant application with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in June. The grant application is due within five weeks.

Board members were hesitant Monday to apply for a grant with only five weeks to prepare the application.

“It always seems like we never have much success or want to change something when we have a time crunch,” Councilman Travis S. McKnight said.

“They don’t give you a lot of time. I just wish we had a few months to work on it instead of a few weeks, to make sure we get everything the way we want it.”

With the concept plan in hand, the town would increase its chances of being matched for other grants from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop the facility.

“The research center would help develop technologies that can be used and distributed throughout the north country,” Waddington Supervisor Mark Scott said.

“It will require a combination of public and private partnership to help make this a reality. It’s money worth spending. But without a plan in place, we can’t just go to the bank to put in infrastructure. There is going to be a lot of money needed for water, sewer and roads. You have to have something in hand to show them we’re serious about the project,” he said.

The Sustainable Power and Applied Research Facility already has shown interest in a research center in the town.

“They are very interested,” Councilman Robert J. Dalton said. “We have to make it easier and more enticing to them.”

But waiting a year to complete the grant application has its benefits; the town could use the money from the sale of surplus land along River Road to pay for the conceptual plan, Mr. Dalton said.

“We’ve discussed a few compromises along the old River Road, and it might be time to get that conversation started again,” he said.

“If we sold that property, we would have some money to work with.”

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