Amsterdam hears grant writing proposals tonight

After letting go of the city’s grant writer, the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and Comm


After letting go of the city’s grant writer, the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and Common Council members will hear pitches for that service tonight.

Consultants set to offer grant writing to the city include TGW Consulting Group Inc., which includes former Mayor John Duchessi and his brother Anthony, Geo-Environmental Management Solutions, and Valley Rural Housing Corporation.

Former grant writer Nick Zabawsky, who runs Orion Management, is also expected to pitch his services.

The AIDA Board, which funds the city’s grant writing consultant, did not renew Zabawsky’s $30,000-per-year contract. Zabawsky has been the city’s grant writer for the last six years and has won over $8 million in grants. He also served as the city’s grant writer in the 1990s under the Paul Parillo and Mario Villa administrations.

According to Zabawsky, he has won $76 for every one dollar AIDA has paid him.

AIDA Board chairman Dan DeRossi said at the time that the decision not to renew Zabawsky’s contract was neither personal nor was it a reflection of his abilities, but the board was reviewing contracts to save money.

TGW has been successful working for municipalities in Columbia County particularly in Hudson, Duchessi said. The company has written grants to support not just the city, but the police department there as well.

“Our thing is that we get it,” Duchessi said, “because we’re former city officials.”

Duchessi said the company’s contracts are simple and don’t include additional charges for things like gas and phone calls.

“All those things I hated about consultants when I was mayor,” he said.

Jeremy Silverman, of Geo-Environmental Management Solutions, said the company has been expanding its grant writing services in recent years. In the past they have been successful in getting a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for the village of Frankfort and a $2 million Restore NY grant for a company in St. Johnsville. They were also hired this week by the village of Green Island.

“We customize our services to focus on upstate New York communities. We understand the burden consultants play and we think we offer a really good price for our services that would add value to the community. If we’re not adding value we’re not ashamed to say this relationship isn’t working.”

Gino Santabarbara, executive director of Valley Rural Housing, said the private not-for-profit agency has invested over $5 million into the community through grants. The money goes toward helping mostly the elderly and disabled stay in their homes.

Santabarbara said he wants city officials to know what the agency can do. He said the agency would write grants for the city for a minimal fee and there would be practically no charge for lost opportunities.

“Our focus and goal is to get money into the community because it has been so deprived,” Santabarbara said.

Alderwoman Gina DeRossi, R-3rd Ward, who called the meeting, said the presentations to both AIDA and the Common Council will give both agencies information in case there is some sort of cost sharing agreement to fund a grant writing consultant.

Since the grants received benefit the municipality as a whole, AIDA board members feel the city should chip in for the cost of the service.

DeRossi said the city has to continue to write grants “one way or another.”

Along with pitches from grant writing consultants, the Common Council will also receive an update on a pitch to use the Mohasco Complex as a potential site for the state’s Office of General Services’s new consolidated data center, an expected $100 million project.

Lobbyist Alfredo Vidal, of the Vidal Group, the lobbying firm that AIDA hired for $5,000 per month to lobby on behalf of the city, will make the presentation. If the state were to choose Mohasco, it could mean a large influx of jobs and money to the area.

Categories: Schenectady County

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