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Towns look for new equipment, river park with casino funds

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The towns of Bombay and Fort Covington have received their quarterly casino compact funds and have submitted plans to the state for how they will use the money. Each town received $198,357.78 in a process that Fort Covington Supervisor Pat Manchester described as a “bits and pieces” approach to what used to be an annual distribution.

In Bombay, officials want to put this quarter’s money toward a multitude of projects. The first is $60,000 for a new park pavilion, to be used for a proposed farmers market. About $57,000 will go toward helping the Bombay Volunteer Fire Department pay off the purchase of a tanker truck.

A new mower and a chipper, at a cost of $40,000, could soon be on their way to the Highway Department for roadside maintenance. Meanwhile, the municipal building will get new office equipment and software upgrades for $22,000, as well as a new propane generator for $9,357.78 to make the offices available for shelter during natural disasters.

The $10,000 left will go to the Senior Citizen Association to improve the light fixtures and flooring of the building.

In Fort Covington, the almost $200,000 will go toward developing a riverfront park and river access as part of a three-year action plan in an area that previously housed an outdated hydro dam removed in 2008 to return the Salmon River to its natural state.

Councilman David Russell expressed concern about Mill Street and potential extra parking for the food pantry. The town board also expressed interest in cleaning up a property behind the post office, but it is unclear whether any of this quarter’s funds will go toward those projects.

The quarterly system for distributing the money was put in place following a disagreement between the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and the state about an illegal casino on the Ganienkeh reservation in Altona. The tribe had withheld slot machine payments since 2010, citing the Ganienkeh casino as a breach of their 2003 gaming exclusivity compact with the state and holding the state responsible for its continued operation.

The tribe and the state struck a deal in May 2013 to reinstate compact payments.

Fort Covington was forced to call a special meeting at the beginning of February to satisfy Franklin County, which also has to sign off on the towns’ plans to use the money, Mr. Manchester said.

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