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Column: Mayor Gerry Messmer
“About those Town Hall meetings”
The following is the 10th in a series of columns about life in Odessa written by Mayor Gerry Messmer.
ODESSA, Aug. 31, 2021 -- As we approach fall, we have many things happening in Odessa! First, I just want to thank everyone for the great turnout at our first Town Hall meeting -- the first part of a 3-part series regarding the legalization of adult use cannabis and what it means for Odessa. As your Mayor, I, along with the Village Board, will remain neutral until we vote as you do in March. Right now, our mission is to get the facts out from both positions so we can all cast a ballot based on facts and knowledge.
This is a very serious issue and one that should NOT be voted on by the Village Board alone. Every resident has a right to be heard and so we will put this issue on the March ballot for a formal vote. In my opinion, Villages and Towns not putting it up for a vote of the residents of their municipality are doing the people they represent a huge disfavor. Whether a municipality opts-in or opts-out is a decision that should be made by the people, not the board. It should be on every election ballot across the County and State.
For those that missed the first meeting, we reviewed the laws regulating the industry and what the way forward is and what it could mean to Odessa and the decision you the residents will make in March. Part of that decision is the fact that if the Village does opt-in, and a dispensary is in the Village, the Village is entitled to sales tax revenue because of the sale of cannabis. This is part of the information everyone needs prior to voting. My hope is to get as much information out as possible, from both sides, so people can make an informed decision at the polls and not an emotional one.
On October 20th, at 7 p.m., we will have our second Town Hall meeting. It will consist of a panel of law enforcement (to discuss impacts), SCOPED (to discuss economic impacts) and finally an owner from Schuyler Glass Company who, if the Village votes to Opt-In, will become a highly regulated and secure dispensary. Our third meeting will be in December.
In other news, we are on the verge of having our own 50-acre park with a 2.5-mile (one- way) trail! We are in the process of closing on the property and working with an engineer to secure a $1 million grant to improve the trail and sidewalks in the Village. Grants ARE competitive, so we can’t count on any of them until they are locked in. This grant would install two bridges along the trail and do some minor culvert work and replace the large offensive railroad gravel with a softer trail gravel for easier hiking. Additionally, we would replace old or non-existing sidewalks in the Village to make it safer for us to walk around and for our kids to walk to school.
The land is the old rail line from Texas Hollow Road to Hayes Hill Road. We have secured 60% of the $35,000 cost through donations and still have more coming in. This trail is vital to help improve the quality of life in Odessa as well as to keep the land “forever wild.” For those who have not walked it, you can see the falls in Montour Falls from the trail!
Water, water, what about improving the Village's water! I get this all the time in person and on social media. We are progressing as fast as we can. We have RCAP Solutions working with USDA-RD on a funding package that would consist of a grant, plus low-interest funding. Once we have funding in place we can move forward with final design, permits from DOT and DEC, and then put the contract out for bid. The project will be in the $7 million to $9 million range, so it is quite extensive, but a thorough fix to our water issues.
Phase 1 of the sewer is complete with the school connected and ready for the first day. The tank and line you see is TEMPORARY as we are waiting for the permanent tank that will be buried under ground. Once that arrives it will be installed without interruption to OMCS. In March we will continue with Phase 2 and complete the installation from the school into the Village and the properties in the Sewer District. The infiltration beds along 224 can and will be used for Youth Sports practice fields. The lines are 4-5 feet underground and will not have an adverse effect or smell when the fields are used. So, the teams will have about 2.5 acres to practice on!
Once again, please mark your calendar for October 24th at 7 p.m. for our second Town Hall meeting, and don’t forget Dumpster Day on September 18th. We had about 50 folks at the first Town Hall session. I double dog dare you to double that number! I can’t wait to see folks there and give you more updates on the exciting things happening in Odessa!
Photo in text: Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer.
To see Mayor Messmer's first column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's second column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's third column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's fourth column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's fifth column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's sixth column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's seventh column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's eighth column, click here.
To see Mayor Messmer's ninth column, click here.