Johnstown hires grant consultant

JOHNSTOWN -The Common Council on Monday night hired an Amsterdam company as a consulting firm for the city’s new $200,000 NY Main Street Grant program, which officials hope will revitalize the downtown area.

The council authorized a contract – not to exceed $15,000 – with Orion Management Co. for administrative services associated with the grant.

“This $15,000 is within the grant budget,” city Treasurer Michael Gifford told the council at City Hall.

To satisfy state and local procurement requirements, the city sought consultants to provide services to assist the city with the administration of the grant program.

The city in December was awarded a 2013 NY Main Street Program Grant totaling $200,000 through the Mohawk Regional Economic Development Council’s latest round of state funding. The purpose of the grant is to revitalize downtown by providing streetscape improvements and grants to owners on East and West Main streets to renovate their buildings. Johnstown is receiving the funding to help the owners of downtown mixed-use buildings complete commercial and residential renovation projects.

Gifford and City Clerk Cathy VanAlstyne on March 18 opened two Requests for Proposal responses regarding the consulting firm.

According to the RFP submitted by Orion Management Co., the firm will be paid $96 per hour. The only other RFP was received from Planning4Places, LLC, in cooperation with Planit Main Street and Dadras Architects, which would have charged $95-$140 per hour.

The city is currently considering awards associated with the grant program.

The Main Street grant will pay 75 percent of streetscape improvements, up to $15,000, and the city will match 25 percent of the cost. In addition, the grant will pay for 75 percent of building renovations, and building owners will match 25 percent of the cost.

Selection criteria includes projects that are “visually prominent,” have historic value, reduce blight, involve renovation of upper-story residential units, leverage the most private investment, create jobs, address code violations, and house businesses providing “essential services” to the community.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter told the council she and other city officials have already reviewed the grant applications. She said they will make their proposed final submissions to the council to consider at its April 21 meeting at City Hall.