Gloversville Board recommends downtown plan to council

GLOVERSVILLE – The city Planning Board recommended the Common Council allow the Fulton County Planning Department to help in developing a downtown revitalization plan for the Glove Cities by applying for a state-funded program.

Planning Director James Mraz spoke about downtown revitalization at the board’s meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

He said the state operates a grant program where the county could apply to obtain grant funds to hire professional consultants to prepare downtown revitalization plans. He said the local share would be 10 percent, but it could be offset through in-kind services provided by his department.

The Brownfield Area Opportunity Program provides money to help develop areas that may be difficult to work with because of environmental hazards, Mraz said.

“If you have 10 buildings out of 100 that have asbestos and are causing blight in the neighborhood, then the whole 100-building area becomes a Brownfield opportunity area because other buildings can’t be developed,” Senior Planner Sean Geraghty told the Planning Board.

Mraz said through the CEO Roundtable and the Downtown Revitalization Symposium discussions, it has been stressed that to revitalize downtown areas there must be a plan and businesses should be the driving force behind the development.

“They emphasized the need for a plan because it is critically important to have a vision of what you want your downtown to be,” Mraz said.

He said because each city doesn’t have a full planning department the way the county does, this would provide both cities the opportunity to develop a plan and seek state funding to pay for it.

Mraz said there would be an action team consisting of downtown businesses, property owners, downtown residents, local government and business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and BID that would assist the consultant in making a plan that fits the vision of each downtown area.

Mraz said how this team would be assembled has yet to be determined, but he believes each city will select who they want to be on the team.

“The county would be the administrator of the dollars,” Mraz said. “The control of the project would be by each cities action team.”

Board Chairman William Ferguson said he supported the project and believes this turns a negative both cities are facing into a positive.

“What the whole project actually does is takes liabilities we are sitting on right now and transforms them into assets, jobs and revenue,” Ferguson said.