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Tue., Oct. 6
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Honor the contract


Yet another party has put forth an idea about how public officials may use a bowling alley they’ve agreed to buy, but it doesn’t sound practical.

During a meeting held Oct. 28, the Lewis County Board of Legislators approved a deal to buy the Lewis Lanes bowling alley in Lowville for $1 million. They need to find adequate space to house the county’s Office for the Aging, Board of Elections and Department of Motor Vehicles. Legislators had previously opted against spending $10 million to construct a county building on outer Stowe Street in Lowville.

But the plan to purchase the bowling facility quickly became controversial. Legislator Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson, said Oct. 29 that he had changed his mind about the project. And John O. Boyd, D-New Bremen, declared that his view of the project also has been swayed.

Both Mr. Stanford and Mr. Boyd were members of the 6-4 majority voting in favor of the plan. To have these legislators switch sides would give a 6-4 edge to detractors if those who voted against it remain united.

Mr. Stanford said he intended to introduce a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Legislators to rescind the deal. The main problem with repealing the proposal is that a contract to buy the bowling alley was signed Oct. 28.

The owners of the facility failed to obtain a temporary restraining order against the county Monday. But a hearing to decide if the New York State Supreme Court will issue an injunction against the county from backing out of the deal is set for Nov. 14.

The Board of Legislators met Tuesday night and, in a move that defies common sense, voted to revoke its agreement. Legislators must reconsider this decision as even its suggestion has prompted legal action. The county will likely face financial penalties if it doesn’t make good on the contract it signed.

One wrinkle that came to light last week after the Oct. 28 vote was the fact that a previous attempt by the county to buy the Lowville Commons building for $1 million fell through. The Office for the Aging and Board of Elections both lease space there, and legislators thought this would be a good site to own for the county’s use.

When that deal ran into a dead end, the bowling alley became the next best option. First of all, it represented available space that wouldn’t cost $10 million.

And Lewis Lanes is a newer facility, having been rebuilt in 2009 following a fire. As long as the county could convert the space to fulfill its office needs, this seemed like a good plan.

But now Daniel M. Myers, executive director of Double Play Sports, has proposed his nonprofit group partner with the county. He would like to work with legislators to create a multi-use center that would offer recreational programs and community information along with governmental services.

Mr. Myers’s idea would salvage six of the 12 bowling lanes for public use. If accepted by legislators, this new center would house the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Agency. The 2 acres of additional land could be used for further development, Mr. Myers said.

While it would be nice to see the county work cooperatively with Double Play Sports, legislators cannot lose sight of why they are seeking this building. They need more room to house several of their agencies, but the proposal from the nonprofit group would use up a good chunk of that.

Double Play Sports serves a valuable function in the north country, and under different circumstances this sounds like a plan that might work. But it wouldn’t make sense for the county to cough up $1 million to buy half a bowling alley building to provide more office capacity for only three of its departments and end up with the same space problems it’s experiencing now.

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