Village investigating state grant funding for ‘Main Street project’

The village is investigating applying for New York State grant monies available for downtown commercial revitalization, taking advantage of funding opportunities neighboring Saratoga County communities have secured recently.

“If you look at the overall picture, there are a lot of things that are going on all around the Village of Stillwater,” local grant writer Andrew Alberti told the Board of Trustees. “Now we have to find a way to make things have an impact here.”

Alberti, who works for Flatley-Read, Inc. of Schuylerville, made a special presentation to the Village Board on Jan. 15. During a 40-minute question and answer session, Alberti explained how his firm has partnered with the Saratoga County Community Development Foundation to help local governments by searching for opportunities to promote community development in the Saratoga County region.

Essentially, Flatley-Read researches available state and federal grant opportunities for municipalities and the foundation funds the technical and grant writing work with the exception of $500 the village would be responsible for. This partnership has been successful securing state grants for downtown revitalization and other improvement projects in Halfmoon, Glens Falls, Fort Edward and Schuylerville to name a few. Given the Village of Stillwater’s rich history and proximity to the Hudson River water front and canal, “you have a lot of assets here to bank on,” Alberti said.

Prior to the January board meeting, Alberti said he met with Stillwater Mayor Judith Wood-Shaw and Trustee Judith Wood-Zeno to discuss potential funding opportunities for the village. One idea that surfaced was applying for grants to fund a “Main Street project.”

If funded, commercial property owners in the village could apply for money to upgrade their businesses. Those upgrades could include anything from structural and façade improvements to bringing in new business to the village.

In past years the board has had several proposals come forward for residential development but little in the way of new commercial opportunities. Village officials have made it known that they would love to draw new restaurants to the area as well as small retail, projects that would not add to traffic and preserve the character of the village.

To quality for funding, Alberti explained, interested commercial property owners would submit applications for their specific projects to the village based on criteria that would be developed by a selection committee. Applicants would have to front the renovation money to do the work but would be eligible for up to 75 percent of the total cost reimbursed within 60-90 days.

The foundation has agreed to raise the funds for the grant writing and technical assistance in securing the grant for the “Main Street project,” less the $500 the village would have to commit to. No decision was made.

In other business Feb. 15

  • Trustee Wood-Zeno was officially sworn in as Deputy Mayor of the village.
    The village was notified by the Saratoga County Water Authority that it has raised its water purchase rate 1.5 percent or $2.31 more per 1,000 gallons.
    The Village Board set its budget preparation workshop open to the public for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Village Hall.
  • Clearwater Pools of Greenwich submitted a contract to the village, subject to review by the village attorney, for constructing a water splash pad at the American Legion recreation facility. A shed that will house the pump equipment and electrical is already under construction and the pool company hopes to begin preparing the site for the pad by March and set the pump house shed in place. Village Department of Public Works crews will do the electrical and water pipe connections. Once the concrete is poured it takes 27 days to set before the pad can be painted and put into service. Trustee John Basile said he did some calculations and estimated that the splash pad would use approximately 240,000 gallons of water per season, from Memorial Day to about September. The annual cost to the village to operate the splash pad would be $3,600 for set up in the spring and winterization in the fall by Clearwater Pools, and the cost of village water and sewer services.
  • The Village Board approved the purchase of a new sewage hauling and pump truck (a 2019 International) for the sewer treatment plant and authorized the village attorney to prepare a contract with H.L. Gage of Albany for $157,463. The board, in December, discussed replacing its 30-year-old diesel sludge hauling truck with a used or new model. Trustee Timothy Campbell said the current truck is a 1987 model with more than 1.3 million miles on it. The engine and brakes are in bad condition, he said, and are beyond repair. The truck is used 16-20 hours a week and is no longer safe to drive on highways especially when carrying a full load of up to 63,000 pounds. The board considered two other options: Option 1 purchasing a 17-year-old used truck from the Town of East Greenbush for $45,000 and doing at least $15,000 in repairs to make it operational and Option 2: Purchasing a new chassis and moving the tank and pump mechanism from the old truck to the chassis at a cost of at least $75,000. The board was concerned these two options would be risky and force the village to spend more money later on. “Going new we believe would be the best bang for our buck,” Campbell recommended. “I agree,” said Mayor Wood-Shaw. “Putting Band-aids on things just isn’t working out any more.” The truck will be paid for with a fund balance from the village’s sewer service debt account.