As a dog owner, Tony Zappia has envisioned an area near the Massena Intake that could become a useful facility.
A project is underway involving about 40 acres of land along state Route 131 to turn his dream into a reality. Mr. Zappia, who previously wrote an outsdoors column for the Watertown Daily Times, believes this would be an excellent setting for training dogs and holding competitions. The land was given back to the town of Massena by the New York Power Authority.
A Massena resident who trains retrievers, Mr. Zappia began pursuing his idea in August 2015. There were 764 field trials and hunt test competitions across the United States in 2016, he said, and thereâ€™s good reason to believe the north country can market itself as a suitable location to host some of these.
Town officials became involved. They shared Mr. Zappiaâ€™s goal of attracting individuals and organizations with a nice facility.
â€śCouncilman Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said the area can be used by dog trainers who come north for the summer because itâ€™s too hot to train in the south. Thereâ€™s also the possibility for weeklong field trials and other competitions, he said,â€ť according to a story published July 25 in the Watertown Daily Times. â€ś(Mr. Zappia) said many of the trainers who come north in the summer have headed to areas like Minnesota and Michigan. They also scout out private lands that they can purchase for their use. But one site isnâ€™t enough, Mr. Zappia said. Trainers donâ€™t want their dog to be exposed to only one area, so they rotate around to different sites.â€ť
In a letter to the editor published Monday in the Watertown Daily Times, Mr. Zappia praised the efforts of many people who have assisted with this project. He said there is growing interest in this facility, and this will help ensure its success once itâ€™s completed.
Mr. Zappia credited Town Councilmen Samuel D. Carbone Jr. and Thomas C. Miller; Town Supervisor Steven D. Oâ€™Shaughnessy; Town Highway Department Superintendent Frank Diagostino; Pat Curran of Seaway Timber Harvesting/Curran Logging; heavy equipment operating engineers Bob Willow, Dave Graf and Kevin Crinklaw; land management authorities Pat Peets, Jim Lyon, and Mark and Janet St. Pierre; Ron LaDuke; Tom Hawley; Charlie Durant; Jim Lambert; and Dr. Chris Lazore, among others who are playing a role.
â€śLast week, an operating engineer from Long Island flew up on his own plane and stayed for four days, working 10 to 12 hours a day with an excavator,â€ť the story reported. â€śAnother person from North Carolina also worked on the Massena project. The 83-year-old operating engineer has a site in the Tug Hill area that he uses. â€¦ Mr. Zappia said he plans to do the project in three phases. How much longer the project will take depends on what can be done now and the budget.â€ť
All these individuals have offered advice, lent equipment and donated their time to see this project move forward. This reflects well on people in the town of Massena and others familiar with this industry. The broad support and enthusiasm for this facility demonstrate that itâ€™s going in the right direction.
In addition to everyone else who has become involved with this project, we commend Mr. Zappia for getting it off the ground. He used his experience to see how it could be developed and brought others on board for his cause. We have high hopes this will persuade more people to visit the north country in the years ahead, and itâ€™s rewarding to know there are residents here willing to dedicate themselves toward such an effort.