Tonko supporting 4 area projects for federal money

Congressman Paul Tonko in April
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Congressman Paul Tonko in April

Congressman Paul Tonko has pushed four projects in Schenectady and Montgomery counties forward to the House Appropriation Committee for funding consideration. The committee has the authority to provide federal funding for a handful of projects requested by members of Congress, with  each representative allowed to push for up to 10 projects. Tonko is also requesting funding for other projects based in Saratoga and Albany counties.

In Schenectady County, Hometown Health Center is asking for $750,000 in federal funding which would cover a portion of a $5.5 million project it has planned in order to help provide dental services to underserved populations of Schenectady. Specifically, it would be used to develop a new facility to accommodate patients Hometown Health will be taking on as Ellis Medicine prepares to close its McClellan Street dental facility as part of an anticipated merger with St. Peter’s Health Partners.

“We do not have enough space at our current location,” said Hometown Health CEO Joe Gambino Tuesday.

Currently the company provides dental services to 9,000 clients; it expects that number to double once it takes over Ellis patients as well.

Gambino could not provide the new location as the company is still working out purchase details. However, he said it is a super convenient location for patients.

The need to expand dental services is significant, Gambino said, noting they will become the only company in the area that provides dental coverage for people on Medicaid and other individuals who are economically disadvantaged. The area Hometown Health primarily serves is designated a medically underserved area, with many residents living with low to moderate income, according to proposal details on Tonko’s website.

Gambino said the company is seeking grants through various foundations and looking at using reserve funds to cover the rest of the project’s cost.

Also in Schenectady County, Tonko has chosen to pursue $960,000 in funding for the town of Rotterdam’s wastewater treatment plant, which is aging and in need of repair in order to continue economic development in the town.

“The existing Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is over 70 years old and several components are past or nearing the end of their useful design life, threatening public health, economic growth, and job creation and retention,” town officials said in an email Tuesday. “The project will bring the aging Wastewater Treatment Plant up to modern standards and ensure continued functionality.”

With an upgraded system, the town will be able to bring on more commercial and residential developments along Route 7 and the Interstate 90 and Interstate 88 Exit 25A area.

“These enhancements will also safely accommodate regional economic growth and job creation and retention for now and future generations,” officials said.

The entire project will cost $16 million. In April, the town agreed to provide $240,000 for Phase 1 of the project if it gets the federal funding. Officials said the town will seek other state and federal grant funding along with low-interest loans for the project.

Two other projects were requested by the city of Amsterdam. One is for $1 million to help rehabilitate a vacant building into a community center to revitalize a neighborhood near the city’s mall, which was built in the 1980s. The exact location of the building site was not available. The center would provide services in an area that has almost 69% of the residents living below the poverty level. Some activities that would be provided would include education programs, art classes, cooking classes, in addition to recreational and organized sporting events, according to proposal details.

The other proposal is for $3 million to design and engineer a pedestrian connector and multimodal station. The plan is to connect two major commercial districts in the city to boost economic development in the city.

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti couldn’t be reached for comment.

“With the right combination of visionary leadership and investment in our communities, we can unleash the untapped potential all across our Capital Region in ways that will help our people, businesses and industries grow and thrive,” Tonko said.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Schenectady County

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