Official: West Main Street efforts disappointing

While most of the city-administered grant programs for revitalizing the neighborhoods are going well

While most of the city-administered grant programs for revitalizing the neighborhoods are going well, one program is not, according to grant writer Nick Zabawsky.

Zabawsky updated the members of the Urban Renewal Agency Wednesday about the city’s various grant programs.

A state Main Street grant the city received in 2005 to revitalize West Main Street has been disappointing, Zabawsky said.

The city received $200,000 for the program, which has largely been a waste of time and money, Zabawsky said. Grants are administered on a matching basis through the program to property owners who are willing to foot 50 percent of the rehabilitation cost.

Zabawsky said the department has had about nine property owners willing to go through the program. The city then spent money on studies for things like lead paint and asbestos only to have the property owners pull out at the last minute when they realized how much their half was.

“It’s been a real waste of money and time,” he said.

Zabawsky said there is about $100,000 left from the grant and he has one interested party.

“Hopefully we’ll get some more takers,” he said.

Three other grants the city received from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development have been successful, Zabawsky said.

The city has received $1 million since 2004, including $400,000 in 2007, for qualifying landlords to rehabilitate their rental properties.

Zabawsky said the city is about to use up the $400,000 grant it received in 2005 and so far the programs have spurred $500,000 in private investment.

Zabawsky said the program helps bring qualifying properties up to code and up to HUD’s standards.

Zabawsky said most of the interested landlords are local, but there has been some interest from landlords who live downstate.

“We’ve got landlords who want to invest, which is a good thing,” he said.

Zabawsky also updated the board members on a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant the city received to separate the storm sewer and water lines. Zabawsky said the city is in violation, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, because when it rains heavily the sewage pump stations get overloaded and spill sewage into the Mohawk River. Zabawsky said there have only been a handful of documented incidents each year, but the DEC could technically fine the city $3,500 per day.

Separating the line would reduce the amount of sewage the city dumps into the river by 75 percent.

Zabawsky said the project is taking place at 13 points throughout the city and at both sewer pump stations on the South Side and West End. He said construction should begin by the end of the summer.

Categories: Schenectady County

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