Essex County lawmakers want open session on campus move: Some Essex supervisors insist meeting on move should be open PDF Print E-mail
Written by LOHR McKINSTRY, Staff Writer   
Tuesday, April 03, 2007

ELIZABETHTOWN — Some members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors say a planned executive session on moving North Country Community College's main campus should instead be held in public.
The NCCC Board of Trustees has announced an executive session will be held after a 10:30 a.m. Wednesday joint meeting on moving the college campus from Saranac Lake to North Elba.
College representatives have said the former Upstate Biotechnology campus in North Elba is under consideration to become the main campus of the bi-county institution.
Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said Monday he believes the campus move should be discussed in public, not in a closed-door session.
"There's obviously going to be quorum" of the Board of Supervisors, Scozzafava said. "Any time a quorum of this body (Board of Supervisors) meets, it is a public meeting. Shouldn't we have a legal notice posted?"
College officials have said the executive session will be to discuss the acquisition of real property and that public discussion might adversely affect the price, which is listed as one of several allowed executive-session topics in the state Open Meetings Law.
However, Supervisor Shirley Seney (R-North Elba) said she has a different understanding of what would be discussed in the executive session.
"That's what it was called for, to sit and listen, then go into executive session for the architects to explain something," Seney said.
Receiving a presentation from architects is not one of the allowed executive-session topics in state law.
"If that's the case, that's wrong," Scozzafava said. "The public has a right to attend that meeting."
The first part of the meeting will be in open session, and Board of Supervisors Chairman Noel Merrihew III (R-Elizabethtown) said as many supervisors as possible should attend.
"I believe we are about to address a very, very important decision with Essex County's relationship with North Country Community College," Merrihew said.
"We can vote on this with as much data as possible."
As the college's sponsoring counties, both Essex County and the Franklin County Legislature must approve any move of the NCCC campus.
Seney said it's a North Country Community College meeting, not an Essex County meeting. But Scozzafava said having quorums of governing bodies from both counties on hand means there will be concurrent legal meetings of those boards, as well.
County Attorney Daniel Manning III said he'll check whether a legal notice might be needed.
"If that is the case, we'll proceed accordingly," Manning said.
Supervisor Robert Ashline (R-Willsboro), who chairs the ad hoc Essex County committee on the college's campus plan, said he believes only the county committees will meet with the college Board of Trustees after the public meeting.
"They're going to make a presentation we all need to hear to make a decision," Supervisor Joyce Morency (R-St. Armand) said. "I'm not sure we're not all invited to the executive session."
Merrihew said they'll contact College President Gail Rogers Rice before Wednesday to get more information.



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