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Clayton pays off $300,000 debt to county

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After 10 years of being in the red, the town of Clayton wiped away its debt ceremoniously by handing over a “big check” to the county during the Jefferson County Board of Legislators Meeting on Jan. 8.

“For us it was a monumental step,” Town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said. “This concludes ten years’ worth of financial work.”

At the meeting, Mr. Taylor and Paul E. Heckmann, chairman of the LDC’s Frink Redevelopment Committee, made a $362,000 check presentation for the final contractual payment for the Frink site.

“I am here as the supervisor of the town of Clayton and the treasurer of the Clayton Local Development Corporation to present the county with $362,000, which represents the contractual payment of back taxes and conclusion of 10 years of excellent cooperation between the Town/CLDC and Jefferson County,” Mr. Taylor said at the meeting.

The repayment of the back-taxes was possible thanks to the sale of the property where the former Frink snow plows were manufactured in Clayton between 1920 and 2000. Mr. Taylor said between 2004 and 2009 the town’s work force, under former Supervisor Robert W. Cantwell Jr. and Highway Superintendent Robert Boulton and with the assistance of the county Highway Department, the town highway departments of Brownville, Lyme, Cape Vincent, Orleans and Alexandria, cleaned the site of more than 20,000 tons of contaminated material.

Since the site received a certificate of completion from the Department of Environmental Conservation in 2010, the Buffalo-based Krog Corp. and Hart Hotels development team broke ground on June 26 to build the Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel. The 105-room, full-service boutique hotel and conference center is scheduled to open this summer.

Mr. Taylor said the land, once a financial strain for the community, will now have the potential to generate income thanks to the hotel.

“It will be bringing in property taxes, occupational taxes, employment and bringing new folks into the Clayton and Thousand Islands area will all be great for the town,” Mr. Taylor said.

The town is in the process of developing a Frink Riverfront walkway that will be open to the public along the property. Retail space could be added at a later time.

“We think the hotel development is the first component, developers say phase two will be to build high-end homes on the property,” Mr. Taylor said. “We think the plan put forth addresses all of the goals of that master plan.”

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