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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

Grants to help Mechanicville fix up homes, train station

Grants to help Mechanicville fix up homes, train station

Two grants totaling $500,000 will help preserve Mechanicville buildings this year.

Two grants totaling $500,000 will help preserve Mechanicville buildings this year.

The city recently was notified that it will be awarded a $400,000 grant for property owners who want to improve their homes and a separate $100,000 grant to fix up the old train station.

The $400,000 will be split up into smaller grants that the city can give to owners to fix either owner-occupied or renter-occupied homes, as long as rented buildings have 10 units or fewer. The grant is for projects like repairing a dilapidated porch, buying a new furnace, installing insulation or windows or putting on a new roof, said Mayor Anthony Sylvester Sr.

It does not cover interior projects such as remodeling a kitchen, he said.

“It’s long overdue,” Sylvester said. “We’ve got a lot of houses [that] need rehabbing.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal is giving out $10 million in such grants across the state this year and does not require any financial match from the municipal recipients.

Even before it got the grant, the city had already received 14 applications from property owners who want some of the funds; officials plan to solicit more requests after getting details about the grant.

City officials do not know whether they will decide themselves who gets the grants or whether they will create an independent committee to make the decisions. How much money each person will get hasn’t been established, either.

For the train station, the $100,000 grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will be used for engineering work and to put a new roof on the weathered building on Second Avenue.

“I know we’ll get the roof done and some of the outside done, and hopefully some wallboard for the inside,” Sylvester said.

The station operated from the late 1800s through the 1960s.

The city owns the building, and the Mechanicville Heritage Society plans to supply volunteers and raise additional money to pay for more repairs. The organization eventually wants to turn the building into a museum highlighting the city’s railroad history.

Mechanicville commuters used to catch the train to their jobs in Albany at that station. It was called the “6 o’clock train” because it departed at 6 a.m. and returned at 6 p.m. Residents also rode the train to Albany to go shopping.

It also was the drop-off point for the RDA Express, which sent packages and mail by train.

The station closed after the opening of the Northway allowed easier access to Albany by car.

The city is required to put up a $100,000 match to the grant and is allowed to use the building’s value toward it, said city Accounts Commissioner Mark Seber. City officials said in July when they bought the building that no local taxpayer dollars would go toward the upkeep.

The building was most recently used for an Anastos Media Group radio station but has been vacant for many years.

Officials have been told the building is structurally in good shape, and it has retained much of its charm, with an arched entryway on the side of the building facing the railroad tracks, two gables also facing the tracks and a cupola on the roof.

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