Cost of 3-30 project rises

TUPPER LAKE – The estimated cost of “betterments” for the state Route 3-30 reconstruction project has gone up.

The village was awarded a grant from the state Department of Transportation to fund the $17.5 million project. More than a mile of highway between the Mercy Living Center nursing home and the intersection with MacLaughlin Avenue will be reconstructed, replacing the pavement, drainage, curb, sidewalk and retaining walls along the way.

The DOT contract says the state will only replace existing infrastructure. The cost of any upgrades, or betterments, would be assumed by village taxpayers. The village already had plans in place to upgrade the existing sewer and water pipes along the route since the ground would be opened for the project.

At Monday night’s village board meeting, village Trustee Rick Donah questioned why the cost of betterments had suddenly increased by about $250,000 to $650,000.

In a letter to village Mayor Paul Maroun from DOT Design Project Engineer Stephen Gagnon, Gagnon explained that 30 percent was added to the cost for two reasons: Half was added to cover bid costs in case they come in higher than expected, and the rest was added to cover any unforeseen changes during construction.

Any unused portion of those funds would be returned to the village.

The betterment budget includes $38,725 for new sewer infrastructure, $356,146 for a new water main and $95,000 for new, decorative lighting along Park Street from Wawbeek Avenue to Mill Street.

A DOT advisory board, selected by village Mayor Paul Maroun in January, recommended the lighting. The board members included village-town planning board members Jim Ellis and Ben Peets, former Tupper Lake Central School District Business Manager Garry Lanthier, school district Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Pierre St. Pierre and town Councilman Mike Dechene.

The other committee members are village Trustee Tom Snyder, Community Appearance Committee member Monica Parent, real estate agents Robert Gillis and Jim LaValley, property owner and Adirondack Club and Resort developer Tom Lawson and Little Italy restaurateur Ted Desmarais.

Maroun said the village is also trying to get stamped concrete crosswalks installed, like the ones in Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake, but DOT representatives are saying they’re difficult to maintain.

“The issue with that is they don’t think they’re as easy to maintain, and they didn’t think they’d last as long,” Maroun said. “But I was in Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake this weekend, and I walked them, and they’re in great shape, and they’ve been there for at least six years now.”

Maroun added that the village could maintain the crosswalks if that was an issue.

While on the topic of betterments, Donah said a constituent asked him about an old building on the corner of Mill and Lake streets.

“The trucks have a hard time getting around that turn, and a lot of people are concerned about what the status of that property is,” Donah said.

Maroun said he has also heard concerns about that corner, but there is nothing the village can do about it.

“I know a lot of people are upset, and I think it should come down too, but it’s a proposed site for the National Historic Registry, and unless the owner tears it down there’s nothing we can do,” Maroun said.

Maroun explained that the building is one of two prairie houses in Tupper Lake, and that means it was one of the first houses built in the area.

“We all want to clear that corner, but we just can’t do it,” Maroun said. “I’ve talked to Peter (Edwards), and there aren’t enough issues to condemn it and tear it down.”

Village Code Enforcement Officer Peter Edwards explained another hurdle is that a mortgage company owns the property.

“It’s a problem all over the United States,” Edwards said. “Mortgage companies are a mortgage company. They have a lien on the property. They are a financial institution, they are not the owners. The former owners, which they evicted and kicked off the property, who can’t legally enter back on, they keep it in their name. If you die, they’re going to keep it in your name. That makes them not liable. If a kid goes in there and gets hurt, they’re not liable.”

After the discussion, the board passed three resolutions to accept payment from the state for two permanent and one temporary easement to be taken by eminent domain along the construction route.

The village will receive $9,350 for property on the corner of Mill and Park streets, where the Chad Martin Memorial Park is, and $10,500 for a portion of property along 17 Demars Blvd.

The village will also receive $750 for a temporary easement at 124 Park St., which is a portion of the lot next to the Tupper Lake Free Press.