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Hammond will hire a consultant to help secure scenic tag

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HAMMOND — Town Council members are expected to finalize an agreement this month with a consultant who will help designate the Thousand Islands-St. Lawrence River region as a top scenic area in the state.

Municipalities and organizations in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties hope to designate the Thousand-Islands-St. Lawrence Region as a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance.

The designation, through the state Department of State’s Office of Communities and Waterfronts, offers protection to scenic landscapes through review of projects requiring state or federal action, including direct actions, permits or funding.

Hammond Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram said he and his committee received a $75,000 matching grant from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council that will go toward funding the application. The grant will be split among 10 municipalities to fund in-kind research that will be included in the SASS application packet.

But town council members want to be sure that the town is not sole contributor to the project.

“I trust the efforts of the steering committee,” council member Howard Demick said. “I know what they are looking to do and what the other towns are looking to do. I just want to make sure we are not stepping into something that is going to put egg on our face down the road.”

“We have to make sure they are as sincere in their efforts as you, otherwise we have to ask for some money,” council member Douglas E. Delosh said.

Most of the 10 municipalities involved have already begun contributing hours to the project, but others are “dragging their feet,” Mr. Bertram said.

“It looks like the town of Alexandria is picking up some of the slack,” Mr. Bertram said.

So far the town has contributed to $20,000 in in-kind services to the project.

“Most of the work will be done by Hammond because we are lead agency,” Mr. Bertram said. “A lot of will come from the field work — someone from each municipality will have to show consultants the different areas we’re looking to designate.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to gain name recognition and to promote the area to tourists, Mr. Bertram said.

Mr. Bertram said he hopes to approve a consultant this month and submit the application in the spring.

The Town Council will meet tonight at 7:30 to finalize the contract.

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