Neighborhood groups request CDBG funding

Council will vote on final allocations in June
Vale Urban Farm.
Vale Urban Farm.

Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 12:54 p.m. on April 6. An earlier version incorrectly stated the amount of money earmarked for the Section 3 job training program.

SCHENECTADY — Several local groups made presentations ahead of the City Council’s committee meetings Monday with the hopes of securing some of the more than $2 million available in federal funding for their projects.

The money is available through the federal Community Development Block Grant program and is allocated by the city. Council members will vote in June on where that money should go.

There was a new project presented to the council by Melissa MacKinnon of the Vale Urban Farm, a garden project aimed at providing fresh produce to city residents and to  teach them how to cook it. The farm has members who are required to pay a $25 annual fee and are required to work on the farm two hours per week. MacKinnon said the fee can be waived for families who can’t afford it.

She requested $19,000 and is recommended to receive $2,000.

The money would go toward adding livestock to the garden, such as chicken and rabbits. But MacKinnon said she also wants to use the money to help low income or even homeless families learn how to grow and cook their food. This would include the farm purchasing crock pots and stoves powered by solar energy.

“We do as much as we can on the farm,” MacKinnon said.

Ron Gardner, the city’s affirmative action officer, made a presentation asking for funding for a Section 3 job training program in the construction industry.

Gardner said he is looking to gather approximately 30 applicants who qualify for Section 3 employment, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It applies to low-income residents and residents who live in public housing.

He wants to train them for different jobs in the construction industry, and also monitor and track them over the next two to three years to make sure they are successful.

“We really have an opportunity to change people’s lives,” Gardner said.

Gardner requested $87,260 for the program, and is recommended to receive $77,260.

Rosa Rivera, board chairwoman of the Miracle on Craig Street, also made her presentation asking for matching funds for a state grant they will be applying for to rehabilitate the Carver Community Center on Craig Street in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood.

Rivera requested $350,000 and is recommended to receive $150,000.

Some of the renovations would include reopening the gymnasium and installing a new gym floor. Rivera is also looking to remove asbestos from the building and insulate the roof.

Rivera has been looking to reopen the community center, which closed in 2013.

Rivera also explained the different programming she hopes to have, which includes health and wellness. Soul Fire Farms of Grafton has already offered to do workshops at the center.

“We’re confident we can get tenant agreements and we’ll have a sustainable plan to keep the center up and running,” Rivera said.

The building is owned by the city, but council President Ed Kosiur said the city plans to turn the building over to them, along with four to five adjacent properties. He said the community center is “much needed” for the neighborhood. He also said the council will try to help them work toward their goal in obtaining more grant funding.

“We want it to be successful for not only the youth, but the Hamilton Hill community,” Kosiur said.

A public hearing on the CDBG funding will be held on April 9 during the City Council meeting at 7 p.m.

The council did vote on a few items on Monday.

The Finance Committee voted to recommend the council  approve a $53,600 contract for the five city electrical workers who are members of the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

The new contract will give them a 2 percent raise each of the three years in the contract, which includes 2017 through 2019. Workers will also receive an additional $2,000 to their base salary beginning in July.

The Development and Planning Committee recommended to approve Mayor Gary McCarthy to enter into negotiations for contract between the city and Biowaste Pyrolysis Solutions.

The company wants the city to allow it to operate out of the former composting facility at the wastewater treatment plant at no charge. In return, the company said it would convert sludge — a byproduct from the city’s wastewater treatment process — and put it through a thermal heating system to convert it into energy.

Sam Sylvetsky, president of the Florida-based company, previously said it could save the city between $200,000 and $300,000 in energy costs annually.

A ceremonial resolution was also recommended to be approved by the council honoring former Daily Gazette Editor Judy Patrick.

Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas said the resolution is meant to honor Patrick for her “many years as editor of the paper.”

Patrick retired as editor on March 30 after 35 years at the paper.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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