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Canton creates new community development director job

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CANTON — A new community development director position will be created under a restructuring plan endorsed Tuesday by town and village officials.

The plan calls for retaining an economic development director position, but possibly making it a Civil Service job rather than keeping it as a contractual position and redefining the job description.

“I like the proposal; I think it’s a good proposal,” Town Supervisor David T. Button said during a joint meeting of the two boards.

The proposal was formulated by the village board, which approached the Town Council for support so that the two entities can continue a long-standing partnership in regard to economic development.

“Having one person focused on community development and one on economic development working together is going to be what it takes to get the kind of revitalization and energy that we’re looking for,” said Village Trustee Carol Pynchon.

The plan is for the town and village to split equally the cost of an economic development director job and a community development director position. Both would be full-time. Contributions would also come from other consortium members, including St. Lawrence University, SUNY Canton and United Helpers.

Details about job descriptions and salaries still have to be worked out. The economic development director job is expected to be a Civil Service position, which requires applicants to take an exam administered by St. Lawrence County. It’s not certain if a Civil Service exam exists for the community development director job.

The two boards are scheduled to meet again at 5 p.m. June 24. Christopher S. Boulio, the county’s human-resource director, will be invited to attend to answer questions about the process of creating the new jobs.

Linda M. McQuinn, Lisbon, has served as Canton’s economic development director for the past several years. She has a contract with the town, which means she is not a municipal employee. The town has contributed $45,000 per year toward the contract and the village’s share has been $15,000. This year, the village agreed to hike its economic development budget to $75,000, primarily so that more focus can be placed on bringing new businesses and retailers to the community.

Under Mr. Button’s supervision, Mrs. McQuinn has focused mainly on grant writing and community development projects such as waterfront revitalization, trail development, increasing housing options and remediation of contaminated brownfield sites.

Mrs. Pynchon and other trustees said Ms. McQuinn’s existing job description is too broad for one person to handle, so it makes sense to hire a second person who can focus primarily on economic development.

Both positions would report to the mayor and town supervisor with oversight by consortium members and input from the Economic and Community Development Steering Committee and other stakeholders.

Town Board member Daniel G. Fay said he was concerned about the directors having to report to both the mayor and the town supervisor.

“I’ve never been in a situation where it’s fun to work for two bosses,” he said.

Town Councilman James T. Smith said if Mayor Mary Ann Ashley and Mr. Button communicate regularly, the arrangement should function smoothly.

“I’m glad we’re going to have two positions. After a year’s time, we can assess it and see how it’s working,” Mr. Smith said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

According to the proposal, the economic development director will be responsible for planning, coordination, funding and grant development for town and village projects related to business, commercial and retail development, including loan administration, business recruitment, retention and support.

The community development director is responsible for planning, coordination, and fund/grant development for activities associated with village and town community enhancement, including transportation, parks, brownfield, trails and housing.

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