PLATTSBURGH — Work is just about done on the City of Plattsburgh’s voting re-districting plan.
Ward 2 will see the biggest changes, as more than 1,000 residents have to be shifted to different wards.
The plan may also require new election districts in two wards in order to comply with County Legislature areas.
“I think they (wards) all came out pretty equal when you consider the big puzzle we had to put together,” Re-districting Committee Chairman Peter Ensel said.
“I am happy that we were able to use natural boundaries, like major roads and rivers, to make the wards more clearcut.”
The city must re-district its voting wards every 10 years based on numbers from the latest census. The 2010 U.S. Census showed the city’s population was 19,989.
Based on that figure, each of the six wards must have about 3,332 people. The committee was allowed to use a variance of 5 percent below the average, and 5 percent above, which would put the range at 3,165 and 3,498.
Ward 2 had 4,495 people, well above the allowed number, giving the committee plenty of work to do to cut that number down. The increase in population was due largely to growth on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base property.
The major change in Ward 2 came on the campus of Plattsburgh State, where residents of Hood and Defredenburg halls on Rugar Street were put into Ward 3.
The addition of 517 students from those two dorms helped boost Ward 3’s numbers, which were at 2,904 after the census.
The lowest number of residents in the new plan is 3,214 in Ward 1, and the highest is 3,469 in Ward 3.
“All of the wards are within about 150 people of each other, and that’s pretty
balanced,” Ensel said.
Another change is that all of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base property is now in Ward 1, with Route 9 the natural boundary with Ward 2.
Also, 81 residents off Underwood Avenue and 63 on Monty Street were moved from Ward 1 to 2 in the proposed plan.
On Angell Drive, 48 residents were moved from Ward 1 to 3.
“I think the districts are much cleaner now,” Ensel said.
With a low of 3,214 residents, Ward 1 also has some room for growth, he said.
The committee, which also includes James Barcomb, Peggy de Grandpre, Anne-Marie Farrell and Becky Kasper, will hold a public hearing on the plan Sept. 25.
“We will listen to all the comments, positive and negative, and then decide if we want to make any more changes before bringing our presentation to the council,” Ensel said.
He said the notion of shifting boundaries based on political divisions, which has been a problem known as gerrymandering across the country throughout history, never came up.
“We never mentioned political affiliations, and we never even looked at the names of people,” Ensel said.
The plan does have a problem when it comes to meshing with proposed lines from Clinton County. Parts of Wards 1 and 2 would shift from Legislative Area 8 to Area 9.
In order to accommodate them, new voting districts will have to be established in each of those two wards.
County Board of Elections Commissioners Republican Greg Campbell and Democrat Susan Castine said creating two new voting districts will cost about $2,000, which the city must pay for.
“We will do whatever we have to in order for it to work for everybody,” Castine said.
Campbell said they will meet with the committee in the near future to discuss the issue.
“We know they had a difficult job to do, but we will talk to them and see if it can be worked out,” Campbell said.
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