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May 26, 2016
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Funding sought for Highland river access; State funding application deadline nears

MONTICELLO, NY — Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office in 2010, a large chunk of the grant money the state gives to businesses and municipalities is awarded through something called a Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). This year there is a six-week window between the release of information about the available grant programs and the application deadline, which is June 16.

At a meeting at the government center on June 5, Freda Eisenberg, the county planning commissioner, reviewed eight of the projects for which the county is seeking funds in this round of grants.

For users of the Upper Delaware River, the most significant project may be the proposed river-access point in the Town of Highland. For the past several years the county has been successful in seeking funds through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, which have been used to fund surveys and studies of six proposed river-access facilities in the six river towns.

The grant requirement calls for a 50% county match, but the match requirement can be by in-kind efforts, in this case the work of county staff and volunteers. Eisenberg told lawmakers that about $45,000 in staff and volunteer time could be identified, so $45,000 will be the amount of grant funding requested.

Eisenberg said the money, “doesn’t get us to the actual project, but it’s the bridge between concept plans and the construction; the funding would provide full design and engineering… and environmental review.”

Grey-fields study

Another project in the mix will be a county grey-field study. A grey field is a property that has been developed in the past but that no longer has a use, such as the many vacant hotel and guest room properties in the county.

Eisenberg said county staff would be used to make an inventory of those sites with photographs and related information. She said grant money would be used to pay consultants for a market study about what those sites might be used for. She added that a common shortfall that has been noted in previous studies about the county is a lack of hotel or motel rooms: not enough “beds for heads.”

She said she had received two quotes for such a study, one for $50,000 and another for $75,000.

Legislator Jonathan Rouis noted that chain hotels do their own studies.

Eisenberg acknowledged that the big chains did their own studies, but in terms of accommodations, the county should know where it stands. She said with tourism being one of the top three county industries, along with healthcare and agriculture, “how can you have tourism without rooms?”

Rouis said a few years ago there was frustration with trying to attract facilities to the county. He said, “We could build the facility, give it to them, have them pay no taxes and they still couldn’t operate at break-even.”

Other CFA applications

Other applications include a grant for a master plan and capital projects for Lake Superior Park; grant to aid the Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library as part of the Main Street Anchor Program; a re-granting program to provide support for small businesses in the Jeffersonville area; a Community Development Block Grant program to provide loans to small businesses in Liberty, Monticello and South Fallsburg; a grant to perform a needs assessment for Livingston Manor in terms of revitalizing the downtown area; a $250,000 grant to pay for a space needs assessment for county staff with a goal of implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects; and a grant for assisting a dairy operation in the county that will be producing yogurt.