By Matthew Saari

One year ago next week, Paul Labas was elected by a narrow 199-182 margin to the post of Granville village mayor.

Labas reflected recently on his first year in office, both the highs and lows, as well as outlining what’s on the agenda for the next year.

Granville Mayor Paul Labas

“I would like to report on the progress seen in the Village of Granville,” he said, “(and) to offer a glimpse of the projects that we have ongoing in the coming year.”

Not long after taking office, Labas went to work on Main Street, which was a central part of his campaign and would remain so throughout his first year as mayor.

“A primary focus for me following my election has been the revitalization of Main Street,” said Labas.

Last April, Labas took “emergency action” and directed the filling in of the pits which once marred Main Street, the remnants of the foundations of two buildings destroyed by fire in 2012.

This project culminated when Labas and the village tore down the weather-beaten stockade fencing which had previously served to prevent people from possibly falling into the pit.

“This was accomplished at no cost to the taxpayers,” said Labas.

Labas wasted little time in continuing his Main Street initiative. One week later, citing concerns over safety to both passing traffic and village infrastructure, he directed village Department of Public Works crews to cut down and mulch the pear trees which had lined Main Street.

This move proved highly controversial to residents, with the Sentinel coverage of the process garnering 5,700 views on Facebook, 107 reactions and 50 shares.

Most of the hubbub over the trees was forgotten as the year progressed, however, with Labas working in concert with locals sprucing up the main thoroughfare.

“We placed 20 flower pots for the summer season that were maintained by the First Church of Granville,” Labas said. “Banners were added highlighting Granville’s business community, traditions and gathering places.”

Labas also noted Main Street was further brightened by the commissioning of Jordan Flower for a Granville mural, courtesy of Telescope Casual Furniture CEO Kathy Juckett.

The apex of Main Street revitalization, Labas said, came during the holiday season.

“The Holiday Decorating Committee procured new LED lights to frame each of the buildings on Main Street,” he said.

The focus seems to be working. Labas noted that, along the way, four new businesses set up shop during this timeframe – Nelson’s Family Fare, Morse’s Diner & Pizzeria, Shaw’s Antiques and Collectibles and 25 Slateville.

Labas also pointed to the village’s handling of a recent state mandate as his continued commitment to village residents. The state mandated the village install upgrades to its effluent disinfection process – upgrades which cost $500,000.

Rather than paying for those upgrades with more debt, Labas and the village secured grant funding which nearly covered the entire amount.

“These grants will help to keep sewer rents lower in the coming years,” said Labas.

One recent topic which sparked controversy at both village and town meetings was the attempted joint acquisition by the village and town of the former TD Bank building on Main Street.

The goal was to convert the structure into a joint municipal center, with both municipalities recouping the upfront costs upon selling their former halls and saving further costs in utilities and overhead operations. But the consistent public backlash to the proposition, in addition to marring local politics, caused the village to pull back and that subsequently caused the town to back out as well.

“I have been surprised and saddened by the manner in which some have chosen to characterize this process,” Labas said when he recommended the village pull out of the deal, “degrading the integrity of the town and village officials, making false claims and tearing at the fabric of our community.”

Moving forward as mayor, the goal remains the same – examining expenses and cutting costs where possible.

“The village executed a contract with NYSEG to replace all of the village streetlights with upgrades LED technology,” he said. “This will provide better, more focused light at a much lower cost to taxpayers and reduce maintenance costs.”

Labas said the village will also be working with the state Department of Transportation to continue repaving of State Route 149 – including sections of Quaker, West Main, Main, and East Main streets – to “make Granville cleaner, brighter and better.”

“I’d like to thank everyone for their assistance and encouragement during my first year in office,” said Labas. “The state of the Village of Granville is strong and improving.”

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