GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Common Council Tuesday night will vote on a resolution to hire city grant writer Nick Zabowski’s company Orion Management Co. to act as the required “Local Program Administrator” for the $10 million New York state Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said Zabowski has worked for the city as its grant writer for 30 years, and he’s the owner of Orion Management.
“One of the things that is required of the DRI grant is that there’s got to be an administrator,” Mayor Vince DeSantis said. “So, the city (of Gloversville) itself is going to do all of the record keeping, and all of that, even for the private (sector) projects. The city has to keep track of that and sort of aide the developers of these private projects with the DRI, to help bring it to fruition, to keep everything is in line, and up-to-snuff. So, the natural thing for us to do to engage Orion Management to help us do that.”
The resolution to hire Orion Management to be the DRI Local Program Administrator is sponsored by Councilman-at-large Wayne Peters.
DeSantis said Zabowski’s job with respect to the 12 economic development projects for Gloversville’s $10 million DRI will be similar to the role Amanda Bearcroft, the city of Amsterdam’s community and economic development director, plays for that city’s $10 million DRI grant.
“Some cities, that are bigger cities and have more staff, can do some of this in-house” DeSantis said. “But, with small cities like us, we really rely on the expert guidance, that we’ve relied on for so many years.”
No contract explaining compensation terms was attached to Tuesday’s Common Council agenda — posted to www.cityofgloversville.com/2023-agenda/ — but DeSantis said Gloversville has an ongoing contract with Orion Management for grant writing and the compensation will be an extension of those pre-existing contract terms.
“We get invoices from Orion, every so often, for the things they do for us,” DeSantis said.
Zabowski recently wrote two Restore New York grant applications for Gloversville that both connect to DRI projects.
In December Gloversville was awarded a $1.5 million Restore New York grant as part of the 6th Round of that program, with the money going towards the $4.7 million rehabilitation project for the historic “Carriage House” building at 39 N. Main St., owned by local businessman Matt Capano.
Earlier this month the Common Council Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve the Zabowski-written $2 million Restore New York grant application to help fund the approximately $4 million Glove Theatre Restoration project, which has received $1.994 million in funding from the $10 million DRI grant.
DeSantis said Zabowski’s expertise in state and federal grant funding makes him a good choice to oversee the disbursement of the DRI funds.
Prior to Gloversville’s successful bid to win the 5th Round of New York state’s $10 million DRI grant contest, the Common Council pledged the city would contribute an additional $1 million towards the economic development projects funded by the grant.
The city of Gloversville is the sponsor for four of the 12 different projects approved by New York state for funding from the $10 million DRI grant:
• Activating St. Thomas Square for Year-Round Activities — DRI Award: $1.120 million to pay for 70% of the total project cost of $1.6 million project sponsored by the city of Gloversville to create a network of green and public spaces connected to Main Street with year-round activities. It will include a new pedestrian area around the Farmers Market Pavilion with decorative pavers, public art, greenspaces, and a memorial to the St. Thomas Factory workers, seasonal activities including a winter ice skating rink with associated amenities such as outside fire pits and skate rentals; and enhancements to Castiglione Park.
• Enhancing Public Amenities at Trail Station Park — DRI Award: $495,000. This funding will go toward the second phase of a planned expansion at Trail Station Park, which will begin with replacing a large section of asphalt with amenities such as a splash pad, restroom, pavilion, and a changing area, as well as trees, picnic areas, trails, and greenspace.
• Creating a Downtown Piazza — DRI Award: $435,000. This project will transform a centrally located but now completely vacant property into an urban plaza/public gathering place for public concerts and performances, weekly outdoor movie nights, and an urban park atmosphere. Space will be provided for food trucks and stalls for local restaurants. Green infrastructure will be incorporated to allow stormwater infiltration.
• Initiating Downtown Business Improvement Fund — DRI Award: $600,000 This project is always funded with all of New York state’s DRI grants, for business improvements within the city’s DRI zone.
DeSantis said he would like to invest an additional $400,000 into the downtown fund from the $1 million Gloversville has pledged of its own reserves toward supporting the city’s DRI projects, but that will depend on how much it costs the city to support the other city-sponsored projects.
He said he would like to pair the administration of the $600,000 Downtown Business Improvement Fund with the same board of directors as the Gloversville Loan Fund, which has about $600,000 in it.
“The Gloversville Loan Fund’s board of directors is made up of the mayor, three members of the council and three members of the (Fulton County Center for Regional Growth) and CRG does all of the bookkeeping for that, and the technical work,” DeSantis said. “So, what we’ve thought is that the (DRI Downtown Business Improvement) grant fund could use the same board, so it would be controlled in the same way as the loan fund, because what I envision is if somebody has a start-up business idea we could maybe dove-tail the two of them, and help somebody, maybe, get a business open in downtown, but we don’t know, exactly, what the state would require from us on that yet, so we have to get back to our partners in Department of State on that.”