Opinion: Dissolution studies are waste of time, money, says Norwood man
Thursday, August 1, 2019 - 5:39 am

The Village and Town of Massena just completed the dissolution study with the CGR firm, most likely at a cost of $50,000 or so. The sad part about this is that the results are known before the survey even takes place. CGR did a similar study for Potsdam, with nearly identical results. It's time to stop paying out huge sums of money to consultants when what you're proposing is predetermined to be impractical.

Villages in the North Country, and across the state, cannot reasonably dissolve because the townships they would dissolve into have no relationship at all to the community and the service areas for people as they naturally occur. The root problem with local government in NY goes back 200 years, and will not be corrected by dissolution studies.

When NY was subdivided up into townships in the early 1800's, they were just large blocks of wilderness divided up among rich land barrons. They had little relationship then, and no relationship now, to how people live and work. We see many, many townships with the population center skewed to one edge of the township, that's the end result of this process.

The fix to the problem is fairly simple, and provided for in existing law. The townships need to be consolidated, and reshaped to better match the way people actually receive services today. Massena is a classic example. If Massena dissolved, a portion of the village would dissolve into Louisville. It makes no sense. Massena should be a larger township centered on the existing Village of Massena, then you could dissolve with cost savings and improvements in efficiency.

What's stopping this from happening is that no one is willing to admit the problem exists and take on the issue of consolidating townships. St. Lawrence has 17 school districts; but 35 townships, does that make sense?

The biggest single sticking point besides the township boundaries has always been policing. The county needs one unified police force that would better serve everyone. Again, it can be done; but, no one wants to carry the water to get it done.

So, in the existing climate it will never be feasible to eliminate the larger villages. But the governor keeps pushing a fictional dissolution narrative, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies that result in the same finding, it doesn't make sense.

Dave Fenton