State to review grant projects

JOHNSTOWN – The city is currently working with state-level agencies as it looks to fully implement its NY Main Street Grant Program.

The city in December was awarded $200,000 in state grant funding through the Mohawk Regional Economic Development Council. The purpose of the grant is to revitalize downtown via streetscape improvements and building renovations. The money will help owners of downtown mixed-use buildings to complete commercial and residential renovation projects.

The Common Council in April indicated seven downtown properties are receiving grant funding to make improvements.

City Engineer Chandra Cotter said Monday the state Office of Community Renewal is administering the program. The NY Main Street Grant Program provides funds from the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corp.

“We’ve just started working on specifications for the OCR and all the coordinated agencies,” Cotter said.

She said the state Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation must also do a review of the proposed projects and approve them. Once they are approved by that agency, Cotter said the projects can be made public.

Mayor Michael Julius said Monday he wasn’t familiar with how the program works, but “hopefully in the coming months” it will move forward.

The grant pays 75 percent of streetscape improvements, up to $15,000, and the city matches 25 percent of the cost. In addition, the grant pays for 75 percent of building renovations, and building owners match 25 percent of the cost. Selection criteria announced earlier for the projects includes ones that were 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.

Downtown Johnstown property owners receiving 2013 NY Main Street Program Grant awards were: The Brenner Group LLC, 17 W. Main St. – $34,900; Bryan Marcucci, 18 W. Main St. – $31,850; Jeff Kollar and Nick Kollar, 1-5 W. Main St. – $24,375; Linda S. Joseph, Inc., 19 W. Main St. – $16,125; Arthur Schrum and Douglas Town, 128 W. Main St. – $15,000; On The Way Up LLC (Laura Casamento), 37-41 W. Main St. – $15,000; and Theresa Cook, 32 W. Main St. – $12,750.

The city in April hired Nick Zabawsky of Orion Management Co. of Amsterdam for $15,000 for administrative services associated with the grant.