County drops grant from capital plan

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County supervisors on Thursday removed a proposed $150,000 downtown revitalization project from the county’s proposed 2014 capital plan list because the county’s two cities appear to be pursuing the grant funding on their own.

County Planning Department Director James Mraz first brought up an idea in May, as a possible capital plan for next year, to pursue a state grant for a downtown-revitalization study benefiting the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown.

Mraz said the state operates a grant program in which the county could apply to obtain $150,000 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.

Supervisors later reached a consensus the county should look into such a plan to improve the downtowns.

The county this summer has been including the $150,000 item in its capital plan, but the Board of Supervisors’ Capital Project Committee formally removed the project from the capital plan at its meeting Thursday at the County Office Building.

Mraz told the committee he hasn’t heard from either city on their intentions. But he said area media reports indicate the Glove Cities are seeking the grant funding independently of the county.

“I’m glad we brought it to their attention, the availability of this program,” Mraz said.

The Johnstown Common Council on Monday reached a consensus to move forward with pursuit of the grant jointly with Gloversville.

The Gloversville Common Council may decide to move ahead as well at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

Glove Cities officials also attended a recent session at Gloversville City Hall about another possible joint application through the state’s Brownfield Opportunity Area Program. The cities are considering applying together for a $400,000 grant that would pay for a development study for both downtowns. At the session, a Bergmann Associates consultant said it would work with the cities to pursue the best options for a joint grant.

The consultant said some of the things the grant could potentially be used for include: future land use and master planning, environmental review and investigation to develop site profiles, regulatory updates or zoning analysis, feasibility studies, highest-and best-use studies, infrastructure analysis and capacity studies, and marketing and branding activities.

The city of Johnstown also is pursuing a separate $200,000 state Main Street Grant to revitalize downtown. Officials said that grant would assist with downtown streetscape and building improvements. The grant would pay 75 percent of streetscape improvements up to $15,000 per project, with the city matching 25 percent toward improvements.

The grant also would pay 75 percent of building renovations, with building owners matching 25 percent toward improvements.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

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