By Jill Nagy
A $20,000 planning grant will help the Village of Schuylerville develop plans to spruce up its downtown.
The funds, in the form of a New York Main Street technical assistance grant, will be used to “create a vision” for the village and create a proposal for a larger grant for public and private improvements, according to village Mayor Dan Carpenter.
Schuylerville, a small village with a small tax base, has no funds of its own for planning department, Carpenter noted. The money will be used to retain grant writing experts Flatley Read LLC to help identify appropriate projects. They will work with members of the business community, many of whom are already involved in the process, to learn what they need.
Flatley Read prepared the application for the $20,000 grant and will administer the grant, said Andrew Alberti, the planning firm’s business manager. They will retain an engineering firm to closely examine up to 10 mixed-use buildings in the village core whose owners wish to participate in a renovation project.
They will look at conformity with building codes, impact on the historic district, the existing condition of the buildings, reuse ideas and opportunities, and proposed project budgets Then they will prioritize the projects.
Those findings will be used to develop a proposal for a Target Area Building Renovation Grant, also a state grant. Schuylerville will compete with other municipalities for a grant of up to $200,000. The money would be a matching grant, reimbursing half the cost of each project officials said.
Amanda Bergin, who owns Sweeney’s, a breakfast and lunch restaurant in the village, is one of the business owners who would like to use part of the renovation grant. She envisions expanding her building, enlarging the restaurant and adding space for apartments or other commercial use, she said.
While she has no formal role in the process, Bergin attended meetings where business owners and other community members brainstormed ideas to reinvigorate downtown Schuylerville. She said there was support for general community projects such as uniform awnings to spruce up the buildings and improved lighting.
“It was good to be able to work with the village,” she said. “It’s nice to be included in those things and to have people who are willing to work with us as business owners and property owners.”
Work on the grant proposal officially begins July 1 and the proposal must be submitted next February, Alberti said.
He sees the Main Street grant as one of several that will help Schuylerville meet its potential as a thriving village with a rich history, most of it stemming from the American Revolution.
“There is a great need here,” he said. But the village also has a lot going for it, beginning with affordable waterfront property close to Saratoga Springs—at least for now, far less expensive. In the last 10 or 15 years, he has seen some $15 million invested in the area, both private and public funds, and “a ton of new businesses.”
Mayor Carpenter reviewed some of the ideas that were collected during the community planning process: uniform awning on Broad Street, improved signage, better facade lighting, energy-saving building upgrades, and renovated rental units. In each case, the building owner would have to finance its project and would be reimbursed for half the cost. Therefore, the financial viability of each business will become a factor in the planning.
Like Alberti, Carpenter has his eyes on other grant possibilities as well, such as work on an Adirondack Gateway Visitors Center, reorganization of the village’s ballfields to open up more waterfront for other uses, hiking and biking trails, and funds to answer the frequent question, “When are we going to get the potholes fixed on Route 29?” he said.