Town of Lowville chooses not to participate in joint GIS project

LOWVILLE — The Development Authority of the North Country plans to seek state funding for a joint Geographic Information System upgrade project on behalf of several area municipalities, but the town of Lowville won’t be one of them.

The Town Council on Thursday voted 3-2 to stick with its current GIS system through the Tug Hill Commission and decline an invitation to undertake a proposed DANC project with Lewis County, the villages of Lowville, Turin and Carthage and the town of Watson. Town Supervisor Randall A. Schell and Councilwoman Ruth I. Laribee opposed the motion, expressing interest in joining the local consortium.

DANC GIS analyst Star R. Carter said the project, intended to digitize or convert digital water and wastewater records to GIS map files that would be available online, is to be fully funded by a grant from the state Archives Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund.

Over the past six years, the authority has had 100 percent success in applying for shared service GIS grants on behalf of municipal coalitions and now has 58 municipal customers on its GIS mapping system, Ms. Carter said. Data hosting service would be free for the first year and cost between $50 and $100 per month after that, but municipalities are free to opt out and take their respective data at any time, she said.

Ms. Carter said she needed to know whether the town was interested in participating, as applications for this year’s funding round are due March 1.

Town Highway Superintendent Mark D. Tabolt said he was personally satisfied with the current system, which is now hosted for free by Tug Hill Commission, and would be a little concerned about trying to keep two different systems updated.

“To me, it’s pretty much a duplication,” he said.

Mr. Tabolt said the decision was completely up to board members but that Mickey D. Dietrich, town of Lowville resident and GIS specialist at Tug Hill Commission, has been very responsive when any troubleshooting or information updates are needed.

“The town has been working with Tug Hill for years,” he said.

Parts of the town water system will need to be redone at some point, Mr. Tabolt said.

The town sought a grant to purchase an AutoCAD system that would allow for in-house digital mapping, but the project wasn’t funded, the highway superintendent said. That would be preferable to a Web-based system, since the latter may not be accessible during power outages.

Mr. Schell said it would be beneficial to have the town, village and town of Watson water lines all on a single mapping system, since they are all interconnected and fed by village water. However, the majority of his board did not agree.

Ms. Carter said the municipal group, with the village of Lowville as lead applicant, should be a strong candidate for funding, with or without the town’s participation.

By Steve Virkler, Watertown Daily Times