WEST ONEONTA _ A local business leader urged the Oneonta Town Board on Tuesday to take advantage of a slow construction market and fix a derelict bridge limiting access to an area of businesses and homes.

A bridge linking state Route 7 with the flood-prone Pony Farm Road and spanning Canadian Pacific Railway tracks was closed by the state Department of Transportation in late January 2008. The bridge, owned by the railway, is one of only two road routes into the 70-acre Pony Farm Industrial Park and a neighborhood of several homes and a farm.

Bids for a replacement bridge solicited last year came back between $349,000 and $1.03 million more than the estimate, and the project was shelved by the board.

Otsego County Chamber President and CEO Rob Robinson said contractors are eager for work and the board should re-bid the project in hopes respondents come closer to the original $570,000 estimate.

"Local contractors here are hurting for work. Local suppliers here are hurting for work," Robinson said.

Councilman William Mirabito said it was "not a bad idea," and the board later voted 4-1 to get an estimate from an engineering firm on what it would cost to re-bid the project. Councilman Carleton Delameter voted against it.

"I think there is validity in trying to take advantage of market conditions," Mirabito said. "There is nothing to lose."

An agreement was reached with Canadian Pacific last year that would have the company pay for about half of the project. A state Multi-Modal Program grant was expected to pay for the remainder of it.

"The state money is secured," Town Supervisor Robert Wood said.

But Wood said Tuesday he has been unsuccessful in lobbying the state DOT and state and federal legislators for additional funding to make up the difference between the estimate and the low bid.

Wood previously said there is not enough support from the other four members of the town board to borrow or apply money from the town's fund balance to pay for what Canadian Pacific and the state grant don't cover.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to seek proposals for dog control services and work at an abandoned home and auto-body shop in the West End. The town's dog control officer resigned July 1, and the former West End Body Shop is in poor condition and shows evidence of trespassing.

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