Nearly a year after the arrest of a man who dealt with dozens of grants to local municipalities for environmental projects, government agencies are still trying to figure out who will finish up the work he didn’t complete.
David J. Decker faces 20 charges that accuse him of stealing nearly $170,000 while he headed the Lake George Watershed Coalition.
The coalition oversaw many projects to maintain and improve water quality in and around Lake George. But after Decker’s arrest and removal, the towns and village of Lake George had to scramble to figure out who would pick up oversight of the grants that had been awarded.
That scramble has continued in recent weeks, with the Warren County Planning Department agreeing to “assist with the administration” of grants awarded to the village of Lake George in 2012 and 2014 under the state’s “local waterfront revitalization program.” The money, amounting to $1.2 million, was to be used to develop a plan for projects along the lake and to help pay for boat wash stations on Lake George.
Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty questioned whether the county should be getting involved with the grants in light of Decker’s situation, particularly if the county will incur costs to do the work.
“I’m a little confused as to why we’re coming in in the 11th hour,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a red flag to me.”
Glens Falls 2nd Ward Supervisor Peter McDevitt questioned whether the grants were involved in the “litigation” with Decker, but county Planning Director Wayne Lamothe said they were not.
One of the grants is all but complete with “just processing the paperwork” needed to be done, Lamothe said.
“It’s a matter of just processing the payment at this time. The village asked us, and we said from an office standpoint ... that we should go forward with this,” Lamothe said.
County supervisors discussed the merits and possible problems with getting involved, but ultimately agreed to allow the Planning Department to finish grant administration for the projects.
“I have full confidence in our department being able to handle this properly,” said Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer.
Horicon Supervisor Matt Simpson said someone has to step up if the board wants the good work that is funded by the grants to continue.
“All of these projects are for the benefit of all of Warren County,” Simpson said. “These are important projects, this is the whole Lake George basin.”
Decker, 67, of Burnt Hills, oversaw the watershed coalition for nearly two decades until his arrest last March for allegedly diverting grant funding to himself. He is no longer involved with the coalition, and is free, pending further court action.