ROUSES POINT — The state contract on the $270,000 grant is slow in coming, but the committee that won funds to evaluate townwide Champlain infrastructure needs isn't just twiddling its collective thumbs."I think this is the time for talking about another grant, getting in the next round," Village of Champlain Trustee Steve Southwick announced at a recent meeting in Rouses Point Civic Center's Halstead Hall.
Around the table with him were fellow Trustee Greg Martin, Rouses Point Trustees Kelly Penfield and Jean Birtz, Town of Champlain Councilor Jules Trahan, committee Chairman Michael Tetreault Jr. and Village of Champlain Clerk/Treasurer Juanita Munoz — and her 10-year-old daughter, Ashley Moran (doing homework).Craig Hicks, a Town of Champlain councilor, couldn't make the meeting.The town and villages have for a long time helped each other out in an informal way; officially, there's collaboration like Village of Champlain maintenance of Town of Champlain water and sewer.But there's also been a long history of dissension among the three, something officials in recent years have vowed to make a thing of the past.This committee, formed after a meeting of the municipalities with Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) about sharing services, is concrete proof that promises are being kept."I think we all agreed we had to identify what our common goals were," said Tetreault.Certainly, one of those was mapping out the future of water-and-sewer development, especially on Route 11 in the Town of Champlain.The town, said Tetreault, had done the homework and just couldn't bear the cost alone.
The Shared Municipal Services Incentive Program grant will, over the next nine months, gather data on the existing facilities in each community then identify needs. It will develop a water and sewer infrastructure management plan by the end of July 2008.Feb. 1, 2009, is the deadline for implementing the high-priority projects revealed by the study and procuring funding to get them done.Brainstorming last week made short work of many of the questions the committee needs to answer before acquiring its funding."I think we all agree meetings are open to the public," Tetreault disposed of No. 1.A motion would fail with a tie vote, Penfield proposed in answer to another question.The group also determined that Munoz and Champlain Village Deputy Clerk Donna Barcomb will administer the grant.Soon, the committee will choose an attorney for the project and then consultants. Not much more can be done until that state contract comes.
SHARING A NAMEBut the time had come, members agreed, to give their little group an official name.Easier said than done.Town of Champlain, Village of Champlain and Village of Rouses Point make for a big mouthful, so they threw around several ideas without getting too far."Northeastern New York Shared Services Committee," pitched by Martin, was mulled over. But it spoke of too large an area, and "Northeastern" sounded too much like the School District of that name."Why don't we all write down our ideas, and next month we can decide?" Tetreault said.But then Penfield — who happens to be a math teacher — came up with C²RP Shared Services Committee, with the squared C representing the two Champlains."All in favor?" sang out Southwick, winning a hearty "Aye!"
The easy camaraderie extended through the more-businesslike part of the session, too, when Southwick proposed his idea of maybe seeking a grant for state-of-the-art water-metering equipment townwide.Health insurance, Birtz tossed out."Is that something we want to look at?""You can always look into it," Trahan said.And what about possible collaboration with Northeastern Clinton Central School District, Birtz spoke up again.Tetreault has given a lot of thought to possibilities."At the board meeting, you were talking about buying a truck," he said to the Village of Champlain trustees. "Why do we have to have three of everything?"
Clearly, the infrastructure-plan grant would be just the beginning."I think Rouses Point's position would be anything we can do to help out," Birtz said."I think it's very important all three communities stay together to apply" for funding, Tetreault said."There was an emphasis on more than two," Southwick said of the state's encouragement to share."We're pretty unique," Tetreault said. "One town with two villages in its boundaries."Maybe that helps us."
Tetreault, said Southwick, "has been the steady piece" of this Shared Services Committee.Some members have come then gone according to the whim of political appointment or election results, he pointed out. As code-enforcement officer for all three communities, Tetreault was named chairman and stays put."Mickey," Birtz announced to chuckles around the table, "really is our first shared service."