SCHENECTADY — The city has for the second time extended its agreement with a nonprofit group that plans to renovate the former Carver Community Center.
In September 2019, the city entered into an agreement with the organization Miracle on Craig Street to rehab the Hamilton Hill center, which has been closed since 2013.
The city allocated $103,685 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to Miracle on Craig Street and Troy Architectural Practice (TAP) to conduct design and pre-development work on the project. In November 2021, that agreement was extended until the end of 2022.
During its meeting on Dec. 27, the City Council approved a resolution to extend the CDBG agreement with Miracle on Craig Street until June 30, 2024 in order to give the group additional time to complete its rehabilitation of the building.
The council also approved a measure to extend its use agreement for the site until June 30, 2024.
“We had hoped to get this finished and out to bid by the end of the year, but we’re just swamped and that’s not happening,” Barbara Nelson of TAP told the council during its City Development & Planning committee meeting on Dec. 19. “We have promised to be out for bid in February so that we can have good, competitive prices and do the construction this spring.”
In August, the project was awarded $1,250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding by the city to complete the renovations of the community center.
The renovated space will include three classroom spaces, a lounge and an auditorium that includes a half-court basketball court.
“The current budget that I’ve been trying to monitor is closer to $1.5 million, but we’re doing everything we can to bring that down with every decision that we make,” Nelson said.
Miracle on Craig Street board member Julianna Obie told the council that the cost of the project has already been reduced by $60,000 thanks to community volunteers assisting in renovating the facility.
“From May until November we have volunteers coming out to keep the area clean,” she said during the Dec. 19 meeting. “The last thing we want is for the building to be an eyesore to the community. So we’re very aware of the need for the volunteers and the consistency that it takes to keep and maintain that area and looking decent until construction is underway.”
Obie said the organization is conducting fundraising efforts to cover any potential shortfall in the construction costs and for overhead expenses once the refurbished center is running.
Nelson said the building has been regularly vandalized over the past decade.
“But the good news is that it was a community center and it will be a community center again,” she said. “It’s not a change of use, so the code issues are not terribly hard to comply with. So we are working at this point to design the facility by pretty much putting it back to the facility it was.”
City Councilman Damonni Farley noted that the city solicited intensive community feedback before proceeding with plans to refurbish the Hamilton Hills center.
“I think that something that’s very unique about this project is that we were very intentional about getting input from the people that lived in the community,” Farley said during the Dec. 19 meeting. “I think that when we have that level of buy-in and you have that level of being culturally responsible and understanding the needs, wants and strengths of the community, that combined effort speaks to sustainability.”