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Brasher officials discuss putting casino gaming money aside for future projects

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BRASHER FALLS — Brasher officials say they should start stockpiling some of their upcoming casino gaming compact checks so they can address future infrastructure projects.

They had met last week to discuss how to spend the latest $154,497.23 check covering the first quarter of 2014. They agreed to use $52,100 for infrastructure upgrades to Munson and Maple Ridge roads to improve safety and traffic flow; $30,000 to improve Hopson Road for the potential development of old racetrack property, and $30,000 for improvements to the Helena Water District.

They also designated $20,000 for trail improvement and maintenance for snowmobile and multiuse recreational trails, and $22,397.23 for the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce Winter Carnival, Christmas Downtown Brasher Festival, banners to promoting local businesses, Christmas decorations for the four hamlets and an open house at the new town garage.

But Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said they should begin thinking about future infrastructure projects and storing money away to address those. “I think the next time we do this we have to start looking at doing something else,” he said.

Mr. Dawson said James P. Fayle, former Empire State Development north country regional director, had told him, “Don’t pigeonhole (projects). Have a two- or three-year plan.” Empire State Development is responsible for approving economic development-related projects that will be done using casino gaming compact funds.

Mr. Dawson suggested councilmen begin thinking about projects that wouldn’t involve spending money immediately, but putting some aside to cover potential infrastructure projects.

“I think we can’t spend this money every three months in little chunks,” he said.

He said they had saved the bulk of their casino gaming compact money to pay for the new town garage on County Route 53, and could do the same to ensure there was money available for future infrastructure projects.

Councilman John M. Keenan said as part of the process, the town should have an assessment done of its roads to determine which were in most need of repair.

“We have to get an engineer to assess the roads before we do anything,” he said.

He suggested forming a committee to work with Highway Superintendent Larry P. Hewlett to determine which roads should be top priority.

Mr. Dawson said he had talked with Mr. Hewlett before proposing the money for the Munson, Maple Ridge and Hopson roads. Munson and Maple Ridge roads wash out every year and the situation needs to be addressed, he said. The money for the Hopson Road will pay for improvements that will allow potential economic development of property that was once destined to be a racetrack. Patrick Curran now owns that property, Mr. Dawson said.

Mr. Keenan also suggested allocating money for repairing trails, which could spur further economic development. At his suggestion, $20,000 had been designated from the latest check to address a trail from Shady City to the CC Dam.

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